The impact of multiple role occupancy on health-related behaviours in Japan: differences by gender and age

Public Health. 2006 Oct;120(10):966-75. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2006.06.006. Epub 2006 Sep 1.


Objectives: We examined gender and age differences in the impact of multiple role occupancy on health-related behaviours and health status among working age Japanese adults.

Methods: We analysed the individually linked, nationally representative data of 5693 respondents aged 20-59, who completed the Comprehensive Survey of the Living Conditions of People on Health and Welfare and the National Nutrition Survey, conducted by the Japanese government in 1995.

Results: Younger women benefited from multiple roles (less smoking), while younger men demonstrated more high-risk behaviours (more smoking, heavier drinking). By contrast, middle-aged men benefited from multiple roles (less smoking, fewer health problems), while middle-aged women reported lower health maintenance behaviours (less exercise, fewer health check-ups).

Conclusions: Japanese society appears to be undergoing a transition in gender roles, as reflected by age and gender differences in the impact of multiple roles on health and health-related behaviours. Middle-aged males benefit from multiple roles (being the primary bread-winner and being married), while middle-aged women do not. This pattern seems to break down for younger Japanese men and women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Caregivers
  • Employment
  • Family Characteristics / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Health Behavior / ethnology*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Parenting
  • Psychology, Social*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Women, Working / psychology