Exodus from Hunger: The Long-Term Health Consequences of the 1959-1961 Chinese Famine

Publication Abstract

Zhang, Zhuoni, Shige Song, and Xiaogang Wu. 2017. "Exodus from Hunger: The Long-Term Health Consequences of the 1959-1961 Chinese Famine." Biodemography and Social Biology, 63(2): 148-166.

This paper examines the long-term health consequences of China's 1959-1961 Famine by comparing for the first time those people who stayed in Guangdong and endured the famine with those people who emigrated to neighboring Hong Kong and thus escaped the famine. Based on data from the Hong Kong Panel Study of Social Dynamics (HKPSSD) and the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS), we analyzed two main health indicators of the cohort born before 1958 - body mass index (BMI) and self-rated health (SRH). Results show that the stayers who experienced the famine have both a lower BMI and lower SRH than the emigrants. The difference-in-differences (DID) estimates further show that the famine exposure reduced SRH by 0.41 and 0.27 points, respectively, for the 1923-1940 and 1941-1958 birth cohorts. For the 1923-1940 cohort, famine exposure also reduced their BMI by 1.5 points.

10.1080/19485565.2017.1311203

Country of focus: China.

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