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Sex inequalities in physical and mental functioning of British, Finnish, and Japanese civil servants: Role of job demand, control and work hours

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  • Sekine, Michikazu
  • Tatsuse, Takashi
  • Kagamimori, Sadanobu
  • Chandola, Tarani
  • Cable, Noriko
  • Marmot, Michael
  • Martikainen, Pekka
  • Lallukka, Tea
  • Rahkonen, Ossi
  • Lahelma, Eero

Abstract

In general, women report more physical and mental symptoms than men. International comparisons of countries with different welfare state regimes may provide further understanding of the social determinants of sex inequalities in health. This study aims to evaluate (1) whether there are sex inequalities in health functioning as measured by the Short Form 36 (SF-36), and (2) whether work characteristics contribute to the sex inequalities in health among employees from Britain, Finland, and Japan, representing liberal, social democratic, and conservative welfare state regimes, respectively. The participants were 7340 (5122 men and 2218 women) British employees, 2297 (1638 men and 659 women) Japanese employees, and 8164 (1649 men and 6515 women) Finnish employees. All the participants were civil servants aged 40-60 years. We found that more women than men tended to have disadvantaged work characteristics (i.e. low employment grade, low job control, high job demands, and long work hours) but such sex differences were relatively smaller among employees from Finland, where more gender equal policies exist than Britain and Japan. The age-adjusted odds ratio (OR) of women for poor physical functioning was the largest for British women (ORÂ =Â 2.08), followed by for Japanese women (ORÂ =Â 1.72), and then for Finnish women (ORÂ =Â 1.51). The age-adjusted OR of women for poor mental functioning was the largest for Japanese women (ORÂ =Â 1.91), followed by for British women (ORÂ =Â 1.45), and then for Finnish women (ORÂ =Â 1.07). Thus, sex differences in physical and mental health was the smallest in the Finnish population. The larger the sex differences in work characteristics, the larger the sex differences in health and the reduction in the sex differences in health after adjustment for work characteristics. These results suggest that egalitarian and gender equal policies may contribute to smaller sex differences in health, through smaller differences in disadvantaged work characteristics between men and women.

Suggested Citation

  • Sekine, Michikazu & Tatsuse, Takashi & Kagamimori, Sadanobu & Chandola, Tarani & Cable, Noriko & Marmot, Michael & Martikainen, Pekka & Lallukka, Tea & Rahkonen, Ossi & Lahelma, Eero, 2011. "Sex inequalities in physical and mental functioning of British, Finnish, and Japanese civil servants: Role of job demand, control and work hours," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(4), pages 595-603, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:73:y:2011:i:4:p:595-603
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lahelma, Eero & Laaksonen, Mikko & Martikainen, Pekka & Rahkonen, Ossi & Sarlio-Lähteenkorva, Sirpa, 2006. "Multiple measures of socioeconomic circumstances and common mental disorders," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(5), pages 1383-1399, September.
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    5. Van de Velde, Sarah & Bracke, Piet & Levecque, Katia, 2010. "Gender differences in depression in 23 European countries. Cross-national variation in the gender gap in depression," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 305-313, July.
    6. Lallukka, Tea & Lahelma, Eero & Rahkonen, Ossi & Roos, Eva & Laaksonen, Elina & Martikainen, Pekka & Head, Jenny & Brunner, Eric & Mosdol, Annhild & Marmot, Michael & Sekine, Michikazu & Nasermoaddeli, 2008. "Associations of job strain and working overtime with adverse health behaviors and obesity: Evidence from the Whitehall II Study, Helsinki Health Study, and the Japanese Civil Servants Study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(8), pages 1681-1698, April.
    7. Sekine, Michikazu & Chandola, Tarani & Martikainen, Pekka & Marmot, Michael & Kagamimori, Sadanobu, 2009. "Socioeconomic inequalities in physical and mental functioning of British, Finnish, and Japanese civil servants: Role of job demand, control, and work hours," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(10), pages 1417-1425, November.
    8. Doi, Yuriko & Minowa, Masumi, 2003. "Gender differences in excessive daytime sleepiness among Japanese workers," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 883-894, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hiyoshi, Ayako & Fukuda, Yoshiharu & Shipley, Martin J. & Brunner, Eric J., 2014. "Health inequalities in Japan: The role of material, psychosocial, social relational and behavioural factors," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 201-209.

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