The impact of schizophrenia on quality of life (QOL) is significantly influenced by sociocultural factors. This meta-analysis systematically compared QOL between patients with schizophrenia and healthy controls in China. PubMed, PsycINFO, Embase, Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), SinoMed and WanFang databases were searched to identify case-control studies. Standardized mean differences (SMDs) and 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated using random effect models. Eighteen case-control studies comparing QOL between schizophrenia patients (n = 2,425) and healthy controls (n = 2,072) were included in the analyses. Compared with healthy controls, schizophrenia patients had significantly poorer overall QOL [11 studies; SMD:-1.07 (95%CI:-1.44, -0.70), P < 0.001] as well as in the physical, psychological, social and environmental QOL domains. Subgroup analyses revealed that poorer QOL was significantly associated with diagnostic criteria, study location, female gender, older age and inpatient status. Older schizophrenia patients had lower physical and psychological QOL, while inpatients had lower psychological QOL. In conclusion, compared with healthy controls, schizophrenia patients in China have significantly lower QOL.