Social and Behavioural Determinants of the Difference in Survival among Older Adults in Japan and England

Jun Aida, Noriko Cable, Paola Zaninotto, Toru Tsuboya, Georgios Tsakos, Yusuke Matsuyama, Kanade Ito, Ken Osaka, Katsunori Kondo, Michael G. Marmot, Richard G. Watt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: A rapidly ageing population presents major challenges to health and social care services. Cross-country comparative studies on survival among older adults are limited. In addition, Japan, the country with the longest life expectancy, is rarely included in these cross-country comparisons. Objective: We examined the relative contributions of social and behavioural factors on the differences in survival among older people in Japan and England. Methods: We used data from the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study (JAGES; n = 13,176) and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA; n = 5,551) to analyse all-cause mortality up to 9.4 years from the baseline. Applying Laplace regression models, the 15th survival percentile difference was estimated. Results: During the follow-up, 31.3% of women and 38.6% of men in the ELSA died, whereas 19.3% of women and 31.3% of men in the JAGES died. After adjusting for age and baseline health status, JAGES participants had longer survival than ELSA participants by 318.8 days for women and by 131.6 days for men. Family-based social relationships contributed to 105.4 days longer survival in JAGES than ELSA men. Fewer friendship-based social relationships shortened the JAGES men's survival by 45.4 days compared to ELSA men. Currently not being a smoker contributed to longer survival for JAGES women (197.7 days) and ELSA men (46.6 days), and having lower BMI reduced the survival of JAGES participants by 129.0 days for women and by 212.2 days for men. Conclusion: Compared to participants in England, Japanese older people lived longer mainly because of non-smoking for women and family-based social relationships for men. In contrast, a lower rate of underweight, men's better friendship-based social relationships, and a lower smoking rate contributed to survival among participants in England.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-277
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar 1


  • Cohort study
  • Cross-country comparative study
  • Laplace regression
  • Mortality
  • Social relationships


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