As You Sow, So Shall You Reap: Gender-Role Attitudes and Late-Life Cognition

  • E. Bonsang E. Bonsang
  • U.M. Staudinger U.M. Staudinger

Some studies have found that women outperform men in episodic memory after midlife. But is this finding universal, and what are the reasons? Gender differences in cognition are the result of biopsychosocial interactions throughout the life course. Social-cognitive theory of gender development posits that gender roles may play an important mediating role in these interactions. We analyzed country differences in the gender differential in cognition after midlife using data from individuals age 50 and above (N = 226,661) from 27 countries. As expected, older women performed relatively better in countries characterized by more equal gender-role attitudes. This result was robust to cohort differences as well as reverse causality. The effect was partially mediated by education and labor-force participation. Cognition in later life thus cannot be fully understood without reference to the opportunity structures that sociocultural environments do (or do not) provide. Global population aging raises the importance of understanding that gender roles affect old-age cognition and productivity.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

MORE ABOUT NETSPAR


Mission en strategy           •           Network           •           Organisation           •          Magazine
Board Brief            •            Actionplan 2023-2027           •           Researchagenda

ABOUT NETSPAR

Our partners

B20160708_tilburg university
B20200214_BlackRock_BLK_eng_black_rgb_small
B20200104_RailOV_logoo.original.grijswaarden
Print
B20190823_mn-logo_small
View all partners