In this study, four models used for assessing the influence of lifecourse financial strains on later-life health (the latent period effects, pathway, social mobility and accumulative effects models) were tested in the context of Japan by using different types of health indicators: comorbidity, disabled activities of daily living, disabled cognitive function, self-rated health and depressive symptoms. We hypothesised that suitable models for describing the influence of financial strain would differ according to the type of health indicator used. Participants aged 60–92 years (N = 2,500) were obtained in 2012 by using a two-stage stratified random sampling method. The final number of participants in the sample was 1,324. The results indicate that three models – pathway, accumulative effects and social mobility – describe the influence of a person's lifecourse financial strain on comorbidity, cognitive function, self-rated health and depressive symptoms. In turn, the latent period effects model explains the influence of lifecourse financial strain on comorbidity. However, only the pathway model described the influence of lifecourse financial strain on activities of daily living. These results suggest that disadvantages in lifecourse socio-economic status influence the decline of health in elderly Japanese people, similar to people in Western countries. However, the finding that suitable models for describing the influence of socio-economic status on health will differ according to the type of health indicator is an original contribution of this study.