“Remnants of feudalism”? Women’s health and their utilization of health services in rural China

Ofra Anson, Frits W. Haanappel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Almost five decades ago, the Chinese Communist Party wished to abolish all “remnants of feudalism,” including the patriarchal social order. Just one year after the revolution, the Marriage Law endorsed women's rights within the family, but no operative measures were taken to enforce it. Some of the economic reforms since independence even strengthened patrilocality and, possibly, patriarchal values. The purpose of this study was to explore the degree to which patrilocality served to maintain the traditional patriarchal stratification among women in the household by exploring women's health patterns and utilization of health services. Data were collected from 3859 women residing in rural Hebei, and variation in health and help seeking of six categories of relation to household head -mothers, wives, daughters, daughters-in-law, family heads, and other relatives -were explored. Utilization of health services is not dependent on women's position in the household, but primarily on per-capita income. Health patterns seem to indicate that mothers of the head of the household still have a considerable power to define their roles and share of household work. Women head of family, most of whom are married, appear to be under strain, which could be a result of their culturally “deviant” position. We conclude that old patriarchal values are intertwined with values of equality in current rural China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-123
Number of pages19
JournalWomen and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2000


  • Health
  • Health care utilization
  • Living arrangements
  • Patriarchalism
  • Rural China

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of '“Remnants of feudalism”? Women’s health and their utilization of health services in rural China'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this