Mental health effects of perceived living environment and neighborhood safety in urbanizing China

Juan Chen, Shuo Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


In the past three decades, the rapid migration and urbanization process in China has led to significant changes in urban neighborhood composition and characteristics, which have serious implications for individuals' mental health status. Using data from a 2011 national survey of urban China, we examine the associations of perceived living environment and neighborhood safety with CES-D depressive distress among urban residents, rural-to-urban migrants, and, for the first time, urbanized rural residents who have experienced in-situ urbanization. Contrary to our hypotheses, rural-to-urban migrants and in-situ urbanized rural residents do not perceive their living environment and neighborhood safety more negatively than urban residents after controlling for individual and household characteristics, county-level and prefectural socio-economic and safety measures, and provincial fixed effects. Moreover, the associations of perceived living environment and neighborhood safety with mental health are the most prominent among urban residents; no significant mental health effects are found for either rural-to-urban migrants or urbanized rural residents. As the urbanization of the countryside is outstripping the urbanization of people, the potential risks of this unprecedented urbanization of the world's most populous nation on mental health require further practice and policy attention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-110
Number of pages10
JournalHabitat International
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015


  • China
  • Living environment
  • Mental health
  • Migration
  • Neighborhood safety
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urban Studies

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