China fact of the day

by on February 25, 2017 at 12:57 am in Data Source, Medicine | Permalink

During one of the greatest economic booms in the history of the world, working-age men had trouble staying alive.

That is the disheartening news from China, where its insurance regulator recently updated a more-than 10-year-old table of mortality rates. A key finding: Mortality rates among Chinese men aged 41 to 60, who account for nearly three-quarters of the working-age population, increased by 12% over the decade through 2013, the most recent data available. This was even as mortality rates generally improved across other age groups and genders.

It could be that financial success breeds bad health habits. Disposable income per capita has risen 90% in the past six years and probably more than that over the past decade, though official government data is limited. Chinese liquor consumption—where men consume 60% more than women—has risen 5% compounded annually over the past 15 years, considered fast by global standards, according to Bernstein analysts. Richer diets go along with high incidence of lung and coronary issues for Chinese men.

That is from Anjani Trevedi at the WSJ, via the always-interesting Dan Wang.

1 So Much For Subtlety February 25, 2017 at 3:42 am

Pollution may be a problem. But I would suspect bad data. It is hard to be sure of anything when you don’t have good data.

2 Adrian Ratnapalaa February 25, 2017 at 7:54 am

Yes, I expect death records are more complete for lower-middle class factory workers than for subsistence peasants.

3 Borjigid February 25, 2017 at 8:29 am

“Chinese men aged 41 to 60, who account for nearly three-quarters of the working-age population”

This can’t possibly be right. Men 18-40, men 61 and over, and women in general should account for well over a quarter of the working age population, even given considering the effects of the one child policy, sex selective abortion, etc.

4 Scott Sumner February 25, 2017 at 10:33 am

I had the same thought as Borjigid. Presumably they meant nearly one fourth of the population. Pretty serious typo by the WSJ.

5 Troll me February 25, 2017 at 11:14 am

The ability to drink liquor at a rate slower than guzzling might help.

Gan bei! and again! Gan bei! Gan bei! Gan bei! Gan bei!

Now that we’ve been here for 20 minutes and are completely drunk already, perhaps it’s time to talk abotu liver health?

6 Lanigram February 25, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Stress maybe?

7 collin February 25, 2017 at 1:35 pm

One aspect of China is terms of moving from agriculture to factories is their culture does not have strong religion controlling the society as much. So in past cultures had the Ross Douthat controlling the working class behavior.

Also, most developed nations made this transition earlier so this might be a function of dieing at 50 – 60 was normal for both agriculture and factory work in 1920 versus modern medicine keep more people alive past 70.

8 Rafael R February 25, 2017 at 6:13 pm

Chinese coal production exploded from 2000 to 2013:

1,384.2 million tons in 2000
3,974.3 million tons in 2013

Clearly, pollution must be a factor. Since 2013 coal production has decreased 5% in China. Let’s hope it decreases further.

9 Stefan February 25, 2017 at 7:56 pm

Isn’t procyclical mortality the standard result?

10 Asher February 26, 2017 at 3:14 am

I was not aware of this result, even though I am a bit of a fanatic of pro/anti cyclic phenomena. Does a good job of explaining away the mystery.

My two cents is that when mortality rates are very low, a 12% increase does not translate into many more deaths. A US man in this age group has about a 0.5% chance of dying in a year, add 12% to that and you are getting an extra 1 in a thousand deaths per year.

11 akarlin February 26, 2017 at 6:17 am

Smoking in China has also soared in the past 25 years – that seems to be something that will overwhelmingly affect middle-aged male mortality.

12 Cooper February 27, 2017 at 2:12 pm

There’s nothing quite like watching a Chinese man chain smoking cigarettes under the haze of coal smog.

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