in Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine (2021), 7
Background: Gender differences in late middle-age cognitive performance may be explained by differences in educational or occupational attainment rates, or gender-patterned returns of similar education and occupation to cognitive reserve. We tested these competing hypotheses in the historically highly gender unequal context of South Korea. Methods: Data came from the 2006 wave of the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging. We included adults aged 45–65 years. Using quantile regression decompositions, we decomposed cognitive performance differences across quantiles into differences due to rates of educational and occupational attainment and differences due to divergent returns to those characteristics. Results: Gender-based cognitive performance differences across deciles were driven by differences in rates of educational and occupational attainment, while the returns to these characteristics were similar for both genders. Conclusions: Findings suggest that educational and occupational characteristics contribute to cognitive performance similarly in men and women, but discordant rates of these characteristics contribute to performance gaps.
in European Journal of Public Health (2020)
Background: Limited workplace control, an important dimension of job strain, can reduce occupational opportunities for problem solving and learning. Women may have fewer professional resources to mitigate effects of low control, while conversely, gender-role norms may moderate the influence of occupational psychosocial risk factors. We therefore examined if the links between control and cognitive function were similarly gendered. Methods: This observational, longitudinal study included respondents of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe who were aged 50-64 years at entry, employed, and provided at least two measurements of control and cognition (n=6,697). Relationships between control and cognition, quantified with standardised scores from verbal fluency, immediate and delayed word recall tests, were explored using linear fixed-effect and random-effect models with gender interactions. Results: Consistent trends of improved verbal fluency performance with high control were evident across analyses, equal to producing around three-quarters of a word more under high control conditions, with an effect size roughly equal to 0.1 standard deviation units (fully adjusted models, range 0.077-0.104 SD), although associations with recall tests were inconsistent. We did not find evidence of clear gender differences in control–cognition relationships for any of the cognitive domains. Conclusions: The cognitive health of older European workers may benefit from improved workplace control irrespective of gender. Possible sources of bias that could explain the lack of gender differences are discussed, particularly gender differences in labour force participation, response behaviour in job control ratings, and implications of gender-role norms on the importance of occupational risk factors.
Scientific Conference (2019, November 20)
Scientific Conference (2019, October)
Introduction. Women are at increased risk of developing dementia, which can only partly be explained with differences in longevity, sex biology, or differences in detection/diagnosis. A promising approach at the population level is the systematic investigation of life course conditions for men and women across countries and cohorts in order to detect if schooling or work opportunities differ by gender. In the cognitive reserve framework, education and work reflect opportunities for cognitively stimulating activities, which increase cognitive reserve across the life course, and which could delay cognitive decline and the diagnosis of dementia. Method. We develop a framework for systematizing gender inequalities across different life stages and life domains, with a focus on systematic disadvantages for women that could be relevant barriers to cognitive reserve development. For the empirical analysis, we gather individual information and performance on cognitive tests from several harmonized cross-national aging surveys, i.e. the U.S. Health and Retirement Study and sister studies (SHARE, ELSA, SAGE), separated by cohort. Historical figures on gender inequalities for countries and cohorts, and their relevant timings in the life course of the older respondents, e.g. during schooling, were gathered from different sources, and merged with the individual-level data. Results. The new framework leads to testable hypotheses in both the Western and global context regarding life-course socialization and schooling and work opportunities that have been different for men and women. We will present preliminary evidence of how female (dis)advantages on different cognitive tests – memory, executive functioning – are mirroring societal gender inequalities. Discussion. We need to better understand how different life-course opportunities for men and women can create gender differences in dementia at old ages in order to identify individuals at risk today and improve conditions for future generations.