Economic downturns, retirement and long-term cognitive function among older Americans.

TitleEconomic downturns, retirement and long-term cognitive function among older Americans.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsHessel, P, Riumallo-Herl, CJ, Leist, AK, Berkman, LF, Avendaño, M
JournalJournals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume73
Issue4
Pagination744-754
Date Published2017 Apr 11
ISSN Number1758-5368
KeywordsCognitive Ability, Economic Downturn, Retirement Planning and Satisfaction
Abstract

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.

DOI10.1093/geronb/gbx035
Alternate JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Citation Key9050
PubMed ID28402464