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Inequalities in Resource Distribution and Healthcare Service Utilization of Long-Term Care in China.

  • Yang, Changyong1
  • Huang, Jianyuan2
  • Yu, Jiahao1
  • 1 Department of Sociology, Hohai University, Nanjing 211100, China. , (China)
  • 2 Population Research Institute, Hohai University, Nanjing 211100, China. , (China)
Published Article
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publication Date
Feb 16, 2023
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph20043459
PMID: 36834152


Long-term care (LTC) services help the elderly maintain their functional ability and live with dignity. In China, the establishment of an equitable LTC system is a primary focus of the current public health reform. This paper assesses levels of equality in resources for and utilization of LTC services between urban and rural areas and economic regions in China. We use social services data from the China Civil Affairs Statistical Yearbooks. Gini coefficients against elderly population size are calculated for the number of institutions, beds, and workers, and the concentration index (CI) against per capita disposable income is calculated for the number of disabled residents per 1000 elderly people and the number of rehabilitation and nursing services per resident. The Gini coefficients against the elderly population in urban areas indicate relatively good equality. In rural areas, the Gini coefficients have increased rapidly from relatively low values since 2015. The CI values in both urban and rural areas are positive, indicating that utilization is concentrated in the richer population. In rural areas, the CI values for rehabilitation and nursing have remained above 0.50 for the last three years, implying high levels of income-related inequality. The negative CI values for rehabilitation and nursing services in urban areas in the Central economic region and rural areas in the Western region imply a concentration of resource utilization toward poorer groups. The Eastern region shows relatively high internal inequality. Inequalities exist between urban and rural areas in the utilization of LTC services, despite similar numbers of institution and bed resources. Resource distribution and healthcare service utilization are more equal in urban areas, creating a low level of equilibrium. This urban-rural split is a source of risk for both formal and informal LTC. The Eastern region has the largest number of resources, the highest level of utilization, and the greatest internal variation. In the future, the Chinese government should enhance support for the utilization of services for the elderly with LTC needs.

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