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Report Number P95/07-2
Wan He, Manisha Sengupta, Kaiti Zhang, Ping Guo
Component ID: #ti1545249617

China has the largest older population in the world today, and it will age much more rapidly than Western countries in the near future. Along with remarkable socioeconomic transformation and family and lifestyle changes, China has begun the epidemiological transition from the primacy of acute infectious and deficiency diseases to a predominance of non-communicable diseases and chronic conditions commonly associated with an older population.

One of the biggest challenges facing the Chinese government will be the expansion and retooling of its health care system to address the needs of its large aging population. This report presents a descriptive analysis of the health status and health care of China’s older population in 2000. Data come from the Sample Survey on Aged Population in Urban/Rural China (SSAPUR) conducted in December 2000. SSAPUR was the first national survey of the older population sponsored solely by the Chinese government, with a national random sample of approximately 20,000 respondents from 20 provinces. A second SSAPUR was fielded in June–August 2006 with a similar sample size and an improved sampling frame and questionnaire design. The 2006 survey included a subsample of 9,380 respondents from the 2000 survey. When the 2006 data become available, the two SSAPUR surveys will provide a source for studies on trends and changes in older people’s health status and health care utilization, and they will permit longitudinal analyses on the dynamics of health status and transitions to and from different health conditions.

This report first examines older people’s activity limitations, self-assessed health, chronic disease status, and lifestyle behaviors. In addition to providing information on physical health, SSAPUR results permit study of the mental health of older Chinese, an area that has been unexplored due to a lack of data. This report also examines the utilization of health care services by China’s older people, another area that has not been widely researched.

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