This study explores the association between urban developments and health in China, a country that has experienced unprecedented economic growth and consequential rapid urbanisation over the last few decades. Exploiting the Chinese Health and Nutrition Survey, this study analyses the effect of these urban developments on the entire distribution of 11 objectively measured health outcomes related to non-communicable diseases. Quantification of the effects on health distribution is achieved by estimating health distribution in a counter-factual situation in which every individual is exposed to the minimum level of urban development. In decomposing the estimated effect into the part attributable to the observed path through which urban developments change observed health-related behaviours (behavioural effect), and the remaining part which cannot be attributable to this observed path (non-behavioural effect), this study sheds light on the mechanisms underlying how urban developments are associated with health outcomes. The results indicate that urban developments are negatively associated in this regard, especially with health outcomes related to body lipids such as triglycerides and cholesterols, blood pressure and kidney-related biomarkers. Furthermore, the results provide strong evidence of heterogeneity in the degrees of association across the distribution.
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