Economic Development, Urbanicity and Adult Health Changes in China

Jessica Jones-Smith, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Barry M. Popkin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Economic change occurs in complex ways over space and time. The classic methods of studying health and development within urban/rural residence miss spatial and temporal dynamics and adult health changes. Current theories and methods used to explain urbanization’s health effects need more complex measures of the total process of change. China, with its rapid economic change, allows us to study how a more nuanced, multidimensional examination of urbanicity helps us to understand much more about the role of urbanization in adult health. The China Health and Nutrition Survey, with very detailed systematic surveys on community infrastructure, services, demographics and economic environments in 233 neighborhoods for 17 years, enables development of a scale based on components that are theorized to capture the underlying latent construct of urbanicity. We develop and refine this urbanicity scale and then show how it not only captures heterogeneity, but more clearly shows the urban-rural health relationships.

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Presented in Session 114: Health and Demographic Issues in Emerging Markets: China and India