AbstractIn the 2000s, violent medical disturbance (yinao) is rampant throughout China. Yinao is deeply rooted in the inequitable healthcare provision and the authoritarian political system in China, with medical professionals and institutes as the direct victims. In 2015, the Chinese government criminalized yinao behaviors for the sake of social stability. I argue that in the absence of comprehensive health reform to tackle the root causes of yinao, such as inequality and inequity of healthcare provision, the criminalization of yinao fails to achieve its goal of deterring and reducing medical disturbance. Instead, it produces the unintended adverse outcomes of deteriorating the doctor-patient relationship by increasing public awareness of healthcare problems and increasing the public’s demand for better healthcare. Taking advantage of individual panel data from China Family Panel Studies (CFPS) in 2014 and 2016 and employing the difference-in-differences method, I empirically show that the criminalization of yinao has decreased public trust in doctors and positive views of doctors’ competence while increasing public concerns about the healthcare system. This research has implications for contentious politics, healthcare and governance in China and in authoritarian countries generally.
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