Health Inequality among Chinese Older Adults: The Role of Childhood Circumstances

39 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2020

See all articles by Binjian Yan

Binjian Yan

Nanjing University

Xi Chen

Department of Health Policy and Management; Yale University - Department of Economics; Yale University - Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies; IZA

Thomas M. Gill

Yale School of Medicine

Abstract

This paper examines the extent to which childhood circumstances contribute to health inequality in old age and how the contributions may vary across key dimensions of health. We link the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) in 2013 and 2015 with its Life History Survey in 2014 to quantify health inequality due to childhood circumstances for which they have little control. We evaluate comprehensive dimensions of health ranging from cognitive health, mental health, physical health, self-rated health to mortality. Our analytic sample includes about 8,000 Chinese persons age above 60.Using the Shapley value decomposition approach, we first show that childhood circumstances may explain 1-23 percent of health inequality in old age across multiple health outcomes. Second, while both direct health-related circumstances and indirect health-related circumstances contribute significantly to health inequality, the latter tends to be more sizable. Our findings support the value of a life course approach in identifying the key determinants of health in old age.

Keywords: life course approach, inequality of opportunity, physical health, cognitive ability, mental health, mortality

JEL Classification: I14, D63, I18, J13, J14

Suggested Citation

Yan, Binjian and Chen, Xi and Gill, Thomas M., Health Inequality among Chinese Older Adults: The Role of Childhood Circumstances. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12873. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3521691

Binjian Yan (Contact Author)

Nanjing University

Nanjing
China

Xi Chen

Department of Health Policy and Management ( email )

60 College St
New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

Yale University - Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies ( email )

77 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06520
United States

HOME PAGE: http://isps.yale.edu/team/xi-chen

IZA ( email )

Thomas M. Gill

Yale School of Medicine ( email )

333 Cedar Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States

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