GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2017, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (7): 1257-1270.doi: 10.11821/dlyj201707006

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The impacts of socioeconomic and environmental factors on self-rated health status among different income groups in China

Lijuan GU1,2,3(), ROSENBERG Mark2, Juxin ZENG1,3(), Mark ROSENBERG2   

  1. 1. Key Laboratoryfor Geographical Process Analysis & Simulation, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China;
    2. Department of Geography and Planning, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario K7L3N6, Canada
    3. Hubei Provincial Development and Reform Commission/Central China Normal University, Research Institute of Two-Oriented Society Construction in Wuhan Urban Agglomeration, Wuhan 430079, China
  • Received:2016-12-13 Revised:2017-04-07 Online:2017-07-31 Published:2017-09-13


China's rapid socioeconomic growth in recent years and the simultaneous increase in many forms of pollution are generating contradictory pictures of residents' health status. To understand this twofold phenomenon and explore the influencing factors of health is the key point to realize the "healthy China" strategy and the prerequisite to take any effective action. Given the rapid economic development, the severe environmental degradation, and the rising health inequalities among different income groups in modern China, this paper applies multilevel analysis to the 2013 China General Social Survey data on social development and health and the China Statistical Yearbook data. Three-level logistic models from the individual, community and provincial levels are developed to investigate the impact of socioeconomic development and environmental degradation on self-reported health, differentiating among lower, middle and higher income groups. The results of the multi-level logistic analysis demonstrate that for all the three income groups, individual-level factors contribute more to the explanation of health than community-level or provincial-level factors. Income, job and education increase the likelihood of rating health positively for the lower and middle groups but have little or no effects on the higher-income group. Compared to the lower and middle groups, residents from the high-income group can buffer themselves from the adverse effect of the environmental degradation. Environmental risks have a mediating effect on the relationship between socioeconomic development and health. These outcomes indicate that the complex interconnections among socioeconomic development and environmental degradation have differential effects on health status among different income groups. Besides social inequality, environmental injustice is another cause of health inequities among different income groups in modern China. This study is the first empirical research exploring the interplay of socioeconomic development and environmental degradation on health by conducting analysis on lower, middle and higher income groups respectively. The results provide an in-depth understanding of health and its key impacting factors and offer some concise policy implications to improve the health status of general populations in a more efficient way.

Key words: health, socioeconomic development, pollution, environmental injustice, multi-level Logistic model, income groups