Gender Differences Among Elderly Japanese: Importance of family and social relations for life satisfaction

Author Name OSHIO Takashi  (Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University)
Creation Date/NO. May 2011 11-E-051
Research Project Toward a Comprehensive Resolution of Social Security Problems: A new economics of aging
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The purpose of this study is to investigate how family and social relations affect the life satisfaction levels of elderly men and women in Japan. We used micro-data from 3,063 Japanese elderly adults (1,565 men and 1,498 women) collected from a sample in the first-wave of the Japanese Study of Aging and Retirement (JSTAR), a survey compatible with HRS in the United States and SHARE in Europe. This study found that life satisfaction is more closely associated with family and social relations for women than for men, after controlling for socioeconomic, health, and other factors. Women are more sensitive than men to coresidence and contact with family members, especially parents-in-law, as well as to social relations with others in the community, while men become much more depressed than women following a divorce or widowhood.

Observed associations between each factor and life satisfaction are largely consistent with those separately reported by preceding studies. However, this analysis compared the relative importance of each factor and its gender difference, contributing to a more comprehensive and subjective understanding of the well-being of elderly people.