Marriage and Health in Japan and the United States

Emi Tamaki, University of Washington

This paper examines the effect of marriage on self-rated health among men and women in Japan and the United States. While the positive association between marriage and health is one of the most robust findings in the health literature, studies tend to overlook the context of marriage outside the United States. Marriage in Japan is situated in the unique configuration of gender and family norms, providing a valuable opportunity to test the robustness of “marriage benefit” found in the US. This paper proposes that the work-family incompatibility, a lack of support in household labor, and high prevalence of co-residence with parents are expected to lower the relative merit of marriage especially for Japanese women. Several hypotheses drawn from the sociological literature of health are tested using nationally representative household samples of young adults (age 20-40) in Japan and the US.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Poster Session 5