Is Population Ageing Decelerating in Terms of Cognition?

Bordone V, Scherbov S, & Steiber N (2014). Is Population Ageing Decelerating in Terms of Cognition? IIASA Interim Report. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: IR-14-015


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Higher chronological age tends to be associated with lower cognitive functioning in all cohorts. However, in light of increasing healthy life expectancy, people of a certain age today may perform better in terms of cognition than people of the same age in the past. To test this contention, we use tests of cognitive functioning collected in the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) in two points in time with a 6-year interval. Focusing on the population aged 50 and above, we investigate change over time in cognitive functioning along three dimensions (memory, verbal fluency, and speed of processing). Results based on a repeat cross-sectional design that overcomes potential bias from retest effects suggest that cognitive functioning has improved across survey waves on all of these dimensions. This indicates an extension of significant Flynn effects (which have mainly been studied in children, adolescents, and young adults) to older populations. We find significant secular improvements in cognitive functioning for both women and men, across age groups and educational strata. Several explanations are proposed that go beyond the role of education as the initial driver of the cohort cognitive improvements.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Interim Report)
Research Programs: World Population (POP)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:52
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2016 22:34

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