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Int J Equity Health. 2018 Feb 27;17(1):29. doi: 10.1186/s12939-018-0742-z.

Unequal distribution of health human resource in mainland China: what are the determinants from a comprehensive perspective?

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School of Public Policy and Administration, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, Shaanxi, 710049, People's Republic of China.
School of Public Policy and Administration, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, Shaanxi, 710049, People's Republic of China.
Global Health Institute, Xi'an Jiaotong University Health Science Center, Xi'an, People's Republic of China.
International Business School Suzhou, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, People's Republic of China.



The inequality of health human resource is a worldwide problem, and solving it also is one of the major goals of China's recent health system reform. Yet there is a huge disparity among cities in mainland China. The aim of this study is to analyze the distribution inequality of the health human resource in 322 prefecture-level cities of mainland China in 2014, and to reveal the facets and causes of the inequalities.


The data for this study were acquired from the provincial and municipal Health Statistics Yearbook (2014) and Statistical Yearbook (2014), the municipal National Economic Bulletin (2014), and the official websites of municipal governments, involving 322 prefecture-level cities. Meanwhile, Concentration Index was used to measure the magnitude of the unequal distribution of health human resource. A decomposition analysis was employed to quantify the contribution of each determinant to the total inequality.


The overall concentration index of doctors and nurses in mainland China in 2014 was 0.1038 (95% CI = 0.0208, 0.1865) and 0.0785 (95% CI =0.0018, 0.1561). Decomposition of the concentration index revealed that economic status was the primary contributor (58.5% and 57%) to the inequality of doctors and nurses, followed by the Southwest China (19.1% and 18.6%), urbanization level (- 13.1% and - 12.8%), and revenue (8.0% and 7.8%). Party secretaries with Master degree (7.0%, 6.8%), mayors who were 60 years old or above (6.3%, 6.1%) also were proved to be a major contributor to the inequality of health human resource.


There was inequality of health human resource distribution which was pro-rich in mainland China in 2014. Economic status of the cities accounted for most of the existing inequality, followed by the Southwest China, urbanization level, revenue, party secretaries with Master degree, and mayors who were 60 years old or above in respective importance. Besides, the party secretaries and mayors also had certain influence on the allocation of health human resource. The tough issue of HHR inequality should be addressed by comprehensive measures from a multidisciplinary perspective.


Concentration index; Decomposition analysis; Health human resource; Inequality

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