This is the first study in China that looks at the impact of credit constraints from formal financial institutions on Chinese rural residents’ health. We use the Chinese Household Income Project (CHIP) data collected by the Annual Household Survey Office of Integration of Urban and Rural in the National Bureau of Statistics in 2014. We measure rural residents’ health status with self-rated health assessment and the number of sick days in 2013. The results obtained from using the ordered probit model show that, in general, credit constraints from formal financial institutions significantly and negatively affect the self-rated health of Chinese rural residents. When an endogeneity issue is addressed using the instrumental variable (IV) approach, this paper’s results are still robust. The results also show that the impact of credit constraints from formal financial institutions on rural residents’ self-rated health is significant in male, female, married, and unmarried sub-groups. Further, we find that credit constraints from formal financial institutions impact rural residents’ health through income and economic vulnerability. The findings have implications for preventing rural residents from falling into a health trap due to credit constraints from formal financial institutions.
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