Economic transition and health transition: comparing China and Russia


Economic transition and health transition: comparing China and Russia, Yuanli Liua, Keqin Raob, John Feic. Health Policy, Volume 44, Issue 2, May 1998, Pages 103–122


Drawing on experiences from China and Russia (the world’s two largest transitional economies), this paper empirically examines the impact of economic reforms on health status. While China’s overall health status continued to improve after the economic reform, Russia experienced a serious deterioration in its population health. The observed differences in health performance between China and Russia can be explained by the different impacts of economic reforms on three major socioeconomic determinants of health. Depending on whether or not the reform improves physical environment (as reflected in income level and nutritional status), social environment (including social stability and security system), and health care, we would observe either a positive or a negative net effect on health. Despite remarkable differences in overall health development, China and Russia share some common problems. Mental and social health problems such as suicides and alcohol poisoning have been on the rise in both countries. These problems were much more serious in Russia, where political and social instability was more pronounced, associated with Russia’s relatively radical reform process. With their economies moving toward a free market system, health sectors in China and Russia are undergoing marketization, which has had serious detrimental effect on the public health services.

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