Examining gender differentials in health : the impacts of education, employment, and family roles in Taiwan
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Just as in most industrial countries, in Taiwan, women seem more likely than men to experience poorer health during their life course. In recent national surveys conducted in Taiwan, women consistently report poorer health than do men. Nevertheless, the risk factors and the mechanisms through which they operate to produce gender differences in health in Taiwan remain poorly understood. Evidence has suggested that gendered differences in health are a consequence of the stratification system. In current Taiwan society, women remain disadvantaged in terms of educational attainment, labor force participation, and division of domestic labor. Accordingly, while existing studies of gender differences in health in Taiwan focus on the comparisons of male and female health behaviors, this research highlights the important influence of education, employment, and family roles in shaping the gender gap in morbidity. Because many married women in Taiwan are informally employed in family firms, this research also pays attention to examining the impact of working in a family business on the health of married women. This project employs two data sets drawn from the Taiwan Social Change Survey in year 2000 and 2002. The effects of social factors on multiple health measures, including chronic disease status, illness status in the past two weeks, and self-rated health, are examined. Results indicate that gender differentials in health in different age groups are determined by different sets of social and behavioral factors. The impacts of combining paid work and family responsibilities on health vary depending on social and demographic variables such as gender, age, the type of employment, and the nature of family roles. Specifically, the findings reveal that the protective effect of familial employment is particularly significant among young married women. Finally, the effects of employment on health are found to be partly mediated through working hours.