Status constraints and lifestyle transition: latent class analysis of healthy lifestyles among different social strata in China

WANG Fuqin1

(1.Department of Sociology, Tongji University)

【Abstract】This paper used the Chinese General Social Survey data (CGSS2010) to measure the healthy lifestyle of Chinese people through multi-dimensional health behaviors. The analysis finds that people’s lifestyles manifest diversified characteristics, which can be divided into three latent types, namely, the healthy type, the hybrid type and the risky type. Further analysis reveals that individuals with higher socio-economic status adopt both healthy and risky lifestyles, whereas individuals with lower socio-economic status are more inclined to follow the hybrid lifestyle. Overall, the lifestyles of Chinese people are undergoing continuous transition. People from the middle-upper stratum are able to choose a lifestyle beneficial to their health on account of their advantaged position in the social structure. Yet they are also influenced by the Western lifestyle. People from the lower social classes are more constrained by their disadvantaged position in the social structure.

【Keywords】 socio-economic status; healthy lifestyle; lifestyle transition; latent class analysis;


【Funds】 Youth Program of National Social Science Fund of China (12CSH020)

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(Translated by BAI Dandan)


    [1]. ① The concepts of health behaviors and health lifestyle in this paper are general terms, and they are different from the healthy behaviors or healthy lifestyle in the Chinese context. In order to avoid misunderstanding, modifiers have been added in the paper when referring specifically to negatively unhealthy behaviors or lifestyles. [^Back]

    [2]. ① Pampel et al. (2010) pointed out in the study that there are nine explanations for the negative correlation between low socio-economic status and health behaviors. But one of the latent trait arguments is that statistically negative correlation is a pseudo-correlation rather than a causal relationship. This view has not been supported by empirical studies, so this study does not incorporate it into the analytical framework of individualism or structuralism. [^Back]

    [3]. ① Not all health behaviors require additional economic costs, such as jogging as a healthy form of aerobic exercises does not need any special fees. In contrast, health-risky behaviors, such as smoking and drinking, require the payment of relevant purchase costs. [^Back]

    [4]. ① See “price index” of related China Statistical Yearbook for the consumer price index of “tobacco” and “wine.” [^Back]

    [5]. ② Kim et al. adopted the data of China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS1993), and in the measurement of socio-economic status, only those who had received education in primary school or above were used for the measurement of education level. In terms of lifestyle measurement, behaviors such as diet, smoking, drinking and doing exercises were summarized to obtain the lifestyle index (0–100 scores), and those with a score below 60 were called unhealthy lifestyles, those with a score of 60–80 were called moderately healthy lifestyles, and those with a score above 80 were called healthy lifestyles. These aspects, like the previous studies, have obvious shortcomings. [^Back]

    [6]. ① For the specific sampling plan, please refer to the sampling plan of the second phase of CGSS (2010–2019). Relevant texts can be downloaded from the websites of NSRC at Renmin University of China, ( or Chinese National Survey Data Archive ( [^Back]

    [7]. ① Kim et al. used the CHNS data in 1993, and this study adopted the CGSS data in 2010; and the data collection time was 17 years apart. [^Back]

    [8]. ① Since the sample sizes of each model are different, and do not nested with each other, only the direction and significance test results of the parameters are compared here. [^Back]

    [9]. ② Except changed variable effects, the reason why parameters are not significant may also be related to the small sample size (only 17.8% of the total sample size) of the birth cohort in or after 1978, and the increase of standard error in parameter estimation. [^Back]


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This Article


CN: 11-1100/C

Vol 32, No. 06, Pages 117-140+244-245

November 2017


Article Outline



  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Low socio-economic status and health-risky behaviors
  • 3 Chinese residents’ lifestyle changes and class differences
  • 4 Research hypotheses
  • 5 Study design
  • 6 Data analysis
  • 7 Conclusion and discussion
  • Footnote