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Colter Mitchell: Biological consequences of poverty

A Birth Cohort Analysis of Smoking in China and Its Implication

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionLowry, Deborah, and Albert Hermalin. 2010. "A Birth Cohort Analysis of Smoking in China and Its Implication." PSC Research Report No. 10-717. September 2010.

China has a long history of tobacco use dating from the late 16th century. Currently it is the world's largest consumer and producer of tobacco, with 350 million smokers accounting for 37% of the world cigarette production. This report focuses on the cigarette smoking behavior of cohorts born between 1908 and 1937,whose adult life spanned most of the 20th century, during which per capita consumption increased markedly. Collectively, these cohorts lived through very tumultuous times in China, traversing such major events as the Sino-Japanese war, the Second World War, the formation of the People's Republic of China, the Great Famine, and the Cultural Revolution. The cohort patterns of initiation, cessation, and use provide a first approximation of whether coming-of-age under sharply different conditions affected smoking behavior. The ability to subdivide the cohorts by gender, region, and education also allows one to explore several anomalies in the Chinese pattern of smoking. In particular, it provides a clear picture of the unusual age pattern of female smoking.

Country of focus: China.

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