The Educational Effect on Cognitive Functioning: National versus Individual Educational Attainment

Weber, D. ORCID: & Skirbekk, V. (2014). The Educational Effect on Cognitive Functioning: National versus Individual Educational Attainment. IIASA Interim Report. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: IR-14-008

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Maintaining good cognitive performance at all ages in light of demographic changes represents a social, economic, and health-related challenge, particularly in aging countries. A strong positive relation between individual level education and cognitive performance has already been identified in earlier research, but the differences in relation to national education across countries are uncertain. This study adds to the literature by disentangling the effect of national and individual education levels. It aims to determine the association between education (individual and national) and cognition across countries that vary substantially in terms of their demography, average national education, and level of economic and social development. We investigate common cognitive ability measures from representative surveys of individuals aged 50 and above. All data come from aging surveys conducted in 2007-2012 covering more than 24 countries in Africa, America, Asia, and Europe, and involving about 120,000 men and women aged 50+. We investigate two specific cognitive ability measures: episodic memory and category fluency (vocabulary size). A multilevel approach is used to assess the effect of individual as well as national education level, controlling for sex, age, and health. We find a positive education-cognition relation for individuals across all our countries despite their very different characteristics. Moreover, our results show that increasing the average national education level is related to better individual cognitive performance net of the individual education effect.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Interim Report)
Research Programs: World Population (POP)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:52
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:24

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