Economic, Social and Cultural Determinants of Health and Well-being

This inter-disciplinary study, directed by Winnie Yip, examines the causal and dynamic relationships among social, cultural, psychological and economic determinants of health and well-being in rural China, using a longitudinal study design. Field work takes place in five sites with varying degrees of economic development.

The Field Sites

Jinxiang: Many of the villages in this site grow garlic, a storable cash crop which provides a steady income, making this the richest site in the study. Some also grow cotton.

Chiping: The economy is mostly agricultural, primarily growing wheat and cotton. A recently built aluminum factory created new manufacturing jobs within the county, so laborers do not have to venture far to find employment.

Cao Xian: This site has low incomes and high out-migration – between 40% and 50% of the labor force.

Linqun: The poorest site in this study, Linqun is officially a National Poverty County, and has even higher out-migration than Cao Xian. Many children are left behind to be raised by their grandparents.

Anyue: This site in the Sichuan province (off the detailed map to the west) has many villages scattered throughout the mountains. The migration rate is high, but many migrants return after saving money from urban employment.


Here are some photographs from the field sites. You can scroll through the pictures manually using the arrows, or press play/pause for automatic slideshow.


To learn more about this research, read the well-being publications.

In the News

The Harvard Public Health Review featured this research in an article in their Fall 2006 edition. Here is an excerpt:

“[Winnie Yip] and a team of economists, anthropologists, psychologists, and sociologists are documenting the consequences of China’s shift to a market economy on the rural Chinese, who earn less than U.S. $350 a year. Their data could help identify policies to cushion against negative side effects of economic reform on people’s well-being—an important goal, Yip says, not least because discontent can threaten social and political stability.”

Read the full article here.


Nancy Adler    [ website ]
Center for Health and Community, University of California San Francisco

Norman Daniels    [ website ]
Population and International Health, Harvard School of Public Health

Jan Jing 
Tsing Hua University

Daniel Kahneman    [ website ]
Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

Ichiro Kawachi   [ website ]
Department of Society, Human Development, & Health, Harvard School of Public Health

Arthur Kleinman    [ website ]
Anthropology, Harvard University

Qingyue Meng    [ website ]
Center for Health Policy & Management, Shandong University

Jason Riis    [ website ]
Harvard Business School, Harvard University 

S V  Subramanian   [ website ]
Department of Society, Human Development, & Health, Harvard School of Public Health

Martin Whyte    [ website ]
Sociology, Harvard University