[from abstract]"In this paper, we analyse China's current health workforce in terms of quantity, quality, and distribution. Unlike most countries, China has more doctors than nurses-in 2005, there were 1?9 million licensed doctors and 1?4 million nurses. Doctor density in urban areas was more than twice that in rural areas, with nurse density showing more than a three-fold diff erence. Most of China's doctors (67?2%) and nurses (97?5%) have been educated up to only junior college or secondary school level. Since 1998 there has been a massive expansion of medical education, with an excess in the production of health workers over absorption into the health workforce. Inter-county inequality in the distribution of both doctors and nurses is very high, with most of this inequality accounted for by within-province inequalities (82% or more) rather than by between-province inequalities. Urban-rural disparities in doctor and nurse density account for about a third of overall inter-county inequality. These inequalities matter greatly with respect to health outcomes across counties, provinces, and strata in China; for instance, a cross-county multiple regression analysis using data from the 2000 census shows that the density of health workers is highly signifi cant in explaining infant mortality."