A national longitudinal dyadic analysis of spousal education and cognitive decline in the United States.

TitleA national longitudinal dyadic analysis of spousal education and cognitive decline in the United States.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsLiu, H, Chopik, WJ, M Shrout, R, Wang, J
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
ISSN Number1873-5347
KeywordsCognitive decline, dyadic relationships, Education, spouse

Education plays a significant role in shaping cognitive functioning throughout an individual's life. However, existing research has not adequately explored how the educational attainment of the spouse can impact cognitive functioning over time. This study presents one of the first longitudinal analyses of how spousal education is linked to cognitive trajectories of each member within couples during their later life in the United States. Guided by the linked lives perspective, we analyze data from 8370 couples in the Health and Retirement Study spanning from 2000 to 2018. Results from the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM) integrated with latent growth curve models reveal that cognitive trajectories exhibit a correlation between spouses over time. Moreover, our analysis uncovers gender-specific effects of spousal education on cognition, shedding light on the underlying mechanisms driving this connection. Notably, the lower educational attainment of husbands is associated with a faster cognitive decline in both themselves and their wives. This association is partially explained by economic resources, but not by health and social behaviors. The lower educational attainment of wives is linked to their own faster cognitive decline as well as lower initial cognitive levels of their husbands, in part via economic resources. However, wives' educational attainment is largely unrelated to their husbands' cognitive decline. Intriguingly, wives' education has a more pronounced impact on the health and social behaviors of their husbands than vice versa, although these health and social behaviors do not appear to influence husbands' cognitive decline. In conclusion, these results underscore the importance of considering spousal education in comprehending the complexities of cognitive decline within dyadic relationships.

Citation Key13741
PubMed ID38281387