Growing old in transitional economies

Migration, urbanisation and inequalities in health and wellbeing.

Population ageing and urbanisation are two major demographic transitions, largely as a consequence of economic growth, that are shaping the contemporary world. Despite great disparities in the socio-cultural-political regime, China and India are the most populous countries in the world and both are undergoing dramatic socioeconomic and demographic transitions.

Both countries are facing similar social and environmental challenges given rising ageing population and rapid urbanization: lack of infrastructure, changing family structure and lack of social support due to massive rural-urban migration and urbanization, and social inequality due to rural-urban divide and socioeconomic inequalities. However, it is not clear how and to what extent rapid urbanization in both countries affects the health and wellbeing of an ageing population.

Project objectives

  • To examine how migration and urbanisation affect the health and wellbeing of older adults in the Global South using China and India as case study countries.
  • To explore experiences of growing old through fieldwork in selected communities/neighbourhoods in case study areas in both countries from the perspectives of older people themselves and relevant stakeholders (i.e., family members and service providers).


Principal Investigator: Dr Nan Zhang, Presidential Fellow, School of Social Sciences.

Co-Investigator: Professor James Nazroo, Professor of Sociology and Director of Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity.

External partners

  • Key Laboratory of Health Economic and Policy Research, National Health and Family Planning Commission, Shandong University, China.
  • Public Health Federation of India, India.

Funding period

September 2018 – September 2021.

Disciplines involved

Social epidemiology, Social statistics.

Presidential Academic Fellowship.