Urbanization and mental health in china: Linking the 2010 population census with a cross-sectional survey

Juan Chen, Shuo Chen, Pierre F. Landry

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Along with the rapid urbanization in China, the state of mental health also receives growing attention. Empirical measures, however, have not been developed to assess the impact of urbanization on mental health and the dramatic spatial variations. Innovatively linking the 2010 Chinese Population Census with a 2011 national survey of urban residents, we first assess the impact of urbanization on depressive symptoms measured by the Center of Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) of 1288 survey respondents. We then retrieve county-level characteristics from the 2010 Chinese Population Census that match the individual characteristics in the survey, so as to create a profile of the “average person” for each of the 2869 counties or city districts, and predict a county-specific CES-D score. We use this county-specific CES-D score to compute the CES-D score for the urban population at the prefectural level, and to demonstrate the dramatic spatial variations in urbanization and mental health across China: highly populated cities along the eastern coast such as Shenyang and Shanghai show high CES-D scores, as do cities in western China with high population density and a high proportion of educated ethnic minorities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9012-9024
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2015


  • China
  • Mental health
  • Population census
  • Spatial variation
  • Survey
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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