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The Age Prevalence of Smoking among Chinese Women: A Case of Arrested Diffusion?

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionHermalin, Albert, and Deborah Lowry. 2010. "The Age Prevalence of Smoking among Chinese Women: A Case of Arrested Diffusion?" PSC Research Report No. 10-718. September 2010.

The smoking prevalence by age of women in China is distinct from most other countries in showing more frequent smoking among older women than younger. Using newly developed birth cohort histories of smoking, the authors demonstrate that although over one quarter of women born 1908-1912 smoked, levels of smoking declined across successive cohorts. This occurred despite high rates of smoking by men and the wide availability of cigarettes. The analysis shows how this pattern is counter to that predicted by the leading theoretical perspectives on the diffusion of smoking and discusses how it arose out of the special culture of gender relations in China, rather than from particular socioeconomic or political events. That a similar pattern of smoking is evident in Japan and Korea, two countries with strong cultural affinities to China, is used to buttress the argument.

Country of focus: China.

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