An Exploration of China's Mortality Decline Under Mao: A Provincial Analysis, 1950–80

12 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2016

See all articles by Kimberly Singer Babiarz

Kimberly Singer Babiarz

Stanford University

Karen Eggleston

Stanford University - Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC)

Grant Miller

Stanford University - School of Medicine; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Qiong Zhang

Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) - School of Economics

Date Written: January 26, 2015

Abstract

Between 1950 and 1980, China experienced the most rapid sustained increase in life expectancy in documented global history. However, no study of which we are aware has quantitatively assessed the relative importance of the various explanations proposed for these gains in survival. We have created and analysed a new, province-level panel dataset spanning the decades between 1950 and 1980 by combining historical information from China’s public health archives, official provincial yearbooks, and infant and child mortality records contained in the 1988 National Survey of Fertility and Contraception. Although exploratory, our results suggest that gains in school enrolment and public health campaigns together are associated with 55-70 per cent of China’s dramatic reductions in infant and under-five mortality during our study period. These results underscore the importance of non-medical determinants of population health – and suggest that, under some circumstances, general education of the population may amplify the effectiveness of public health interventions.

Keywords: mortality, China, health improvement, less developed countries, population health, education

Suggested Citation

Singer Babiarz, Kimberly and Eggleston, Karen and Miller, Grant and Zhang, Qiong, An Exploration of China's Mortality Decline Under Mao: A Provincial Analysis, 1950–80 (January 26, 2015). Stanford Asia Health Policy Program Working Paper No. 40. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2850698 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2850698

Kimberly Singer Babiarz (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

No Address Available

Karen Eggleston

Stanford University - Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Grant Miller

Stanford University - School of Medicine ( email )

291 Campus Drive
Li Ka Shing Building
Stanford, CA 94305-5101
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Qiong Zhang

Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) - School of Economics ( email )

Beijing
China

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