Gender Differences Across Lifecourse Socio-Economic Position and Cognition in Late Life Among Older Adults in India


Objective: To examine the sex differences in the association between socioeconomic position (SEP) over the life course and cognitive function in later life. Two alternative models were assessed: the "direct effect model" where temporarily distinct measures of SEP have only direct effect on older adult's cognition and the "indirect effects model" where the effect of early life SEP are mediated through later life measures of SEP.

Methods: Data from the Longitudinal Aging Study in India (2017–2019) were used in the analysis. The sample included 23,584 individuals aged 60 years and above (11,403 men and 12,181 women). Cognitive function was assessed as a latent construct composed of immediate and delayed word recall, orientation, executive functioning, arithmetic ability, and object naming. Structural equation model were used to compare the fit of direct and indirect effects model, and quantify different measures of SEP on cognition.

Results: Significant gender differences in mean cognition scores (men: 25.8, women: 21.1; on a scale of 0–43) were observed. The indirect model provided a better fit to the data. Childhood SEP had no direct effect on cognition but had substantial "indirect effect", mediated through adult SEP. 78.4% of the effect of education in men and 100% in women was indirect.

Conclusion: In India, lower levels of early-life human capital investments in nutrition and education among women compared with men are associated with a female disadvantage in late-life cognitive health. This has important implications for public health policy, aiming at reducing the risk of cognitive decline.

Author Information
Sasanka Boro, International Institute for Population Sciences, India

Paper Information
Conference: AGen2024
Stream: Aging and Gerontology

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon