TWIN study: Work-life balance and health
In Japan, half of women quit their jobs after giving birth to their first child. The employment rate of mothers raising children under the age of 3 exceeds 50% in the United States but is only 30% in Japan. A significant decline in the proportion of women who work in their 30s during childbirth and childrearing is a phenomenon peculiar to Japan among the seven major countries (G7). The background of this phenomenon is the difficultly of maintaining a work-life balance, such as long working hours primarily for working men and a skewing of the burden of housework and childcare towards women.
Work-life balance has traditionally been discussed as an issue for female workers, but in recent years it has become an important social issue that needs to be discussed by society as a whole (Cabinet Office, 2014). Specific aspects of that issue include the increase in mental health problems associated with overwork and employment concerns, ensuring a diverse workforce due to the decline in the working population, and enhancing childcare support in conjunction with the increase in dual-income households.
Measures to improve work-life balance have been promoted in Japan in terms of declining birthrate, gender equality, career development, and childcare support. However, efforts from the perspective of health support have yet to been undertaken and there are no support programs based on scientific evidence.
Therefore, our research team has launched a “work-life balance and health” project, called the TWIN study (Tokyo Work-life INterface), and we are continually studying the effects of work and family life on well-being among dual-earner couples with preschool child(ren).
It is expected that our research findings contribute to work-life balance policy and measures against declining birthrate in Japan.
The development of methods of promoting health and improving job performance
The purposes of this research project are: (1) to establish multifaceted methods of assessing job performance, (2) to develop guidelines for promoting health and improving job performance for each major occupation and industry, (3) to examine the effectiveness of intervention methods presented in those guidelines, and (4) to develop manuals that provide specific procedures for those methods. This research will focus on mental health and low back pain, which are health problems that greatly affect our daily lives.