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See detailEconomic Downturns, Retirement and Long-Term Cognitive Function Among Older Americans
Hessel, Philipp; Riumallo-Herl, Carlos; Leist, Anja UL et al

in Journals of Gerontology Series B : Psychological Sciences & Social Sciences (2017)

Objective: Workers approaching retirement may be particularly vulnerable to economic downturns. This study assesses whether exposure to economic downturns around retirement age leads to poorer cognitive ... [more ▼]

Objective: Workers approaching retirement may be particularly vulnerable to economic downturns. This study assesses whether exposure to economic downturns around retirement age leads to poorer cognitive function in later life. Method: Longitudinal data for 13,577 individuals in the Health and Retirement Study were linked to unemployment rates in state of residence. Random- and fixed-effect models were used to examine whether downturns at 55–64 years of age were associated with cognitive functioning levels and decline at ≥65 years, measured by the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised. Results: Longer exposure to downturns at 55–64 years of age was associated with lower levels of cognitive function at ≥65 years. Compared to individuals experiencing only up to 1 year in a downturn at 55–64 years of age, individuals experiencing two downturns at these ages had 0.09 point (95% Confidence Interval [CI, −0.17, −0.02]) lower cognitive functioning scores at ≥65 years (3 years: b = −0.17, 95%CI [−0.29, −0.06]; 4 years: b = −0.14, 95%CI [−0.25, −0.02]; ≥5 years: b = −0.22, 95%CI [−0.38, −0.06]). Downturns at 55–64 years of age were not associated with rates of cognitive decline. Discussion: Exposure to downturns around retirement is associated with a long-lasting decline in cognitive function in later life. Policies mitigating the impact of downturns on older workers may help to maintain cognitive function in later life. [less ▲]

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See detailRecessions, unemployment and the brain: Do individual and aggregate economic shocks prior to retirement leave a cognitive ‘scar’?
Hessel, Philipp; Leist, Anja UL; Riumallo-Herl, Carlos J. et al

in http://paa2015.princeton.edu (2015)

Based on a linkage of state unemployment rates and individual-level data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), we assess whether exposure to unfavorable macroeconomic conditions in the years leading ... [more ▼]

Based on a linkage of state unemployment rates and individual-level data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), we assess whether exposure to unfavorable macroeconomic conditions in the years leading up to retirement affect both levels as well as changes in cognitive functioning after retirement. Our results suggest that recessions experienced in the years prior to retirement can have substantial negative effects on cognitive function at age 65 and beyond. Our results are robust to various specifications and suggest that these effects are particularly strong for older workers with unstable careers who are hit by a recession, while they are similar for individuals from different race or educational level. [less ▲]

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See detailDo economic recessions during early and mid-adulthood influence cognitive function in older age?
Leist, Anja UL; Hessel, Philipp; Avendano, Mauricio

in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (2014), 68

Background. Fluctuations in the national economy shape labour market opportunities and outcomes, which in turn may influence the accumulation of cognitive reserve. This study examines whether economic ... [more ▼]

Background. Fluctuations in the national economy shape labour market opportunities and outcomes, which in turn may influence the accumulation of cognitive reserve. This study examines whether economic recessions experienced in early and mid-adulthood are associated with later-life cognitive function. Method. Data came from 12,020 respondents in 11 countries participating in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). Cognitive assessments in 2004/5 and 2006/7 were linked to complete work histories retrospectively collected in 2008/9, and to historical annual data on fluctuations in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita for each country. Controlling for confounders, we assessed whether recessions experienced at ages 25-34, 35-44 and 45-49 were associated with cognitive function at ages 50-74. Results. Among men, each additional recession at ages 45-49 was associated with worse cognitive function at ages 50-74 (b = -0.06, Confidence Interval [CI] -0.11, -0.01). Among women, each additional recession at ages 25-44 was associated with worse cognitive function at ages 50-74 (b25-34 = -0.03, CI -0.04, -0.01; b35-44= -0.02, CI -0.04, -0.00). Among men, recessions at ages 45-49 influenced risk of being laid-off, whereas among women, recessions at ages 25-44 led to working part-time and higher likelihood of downward occupational mobility, which were all predictors of worse later-life cognitive function. Conclusions. Recessions at ages 45-49 among men and 25-44 among women are associated with later-life cognitive function, possibly via more unfavourable labour market trajectories. If replicated in future studies, findings may indicate that policies that ameliorate the impact of recessions on labour market outcomes may promote later-life cognitive function. [less ▲]

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