Occupational activities and cognitive reserve: Implications in terms of the prevention of cognitive aging and Alzheimer’s disease

This paper investigates the relationship between the concept of activity (including both professional and nonprofessional) and cognitive functioning among older European individuals. In this research, we used data collected during the first wave of SHARE (Survey on Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe), and a measurement approach known as stochastic frontier analysis, derived from the economic literature. SHARE includes a large population (n > 25,000) geographically distributed across Europe, and analyzes several dimensions simultaneously, including physical and mental health activity. The main advantages of stochastic frontier analysis are that it allows estimation of parametric function relating cognitive scores and driving factors at the boundary and disentangles frontier noise and distance to frontier components, as well as testing the effect of potential factors on these distances simultaneously. The analysis reveals that all activities are positively related to cognitive functioning in elderly people. Our results are discussed in terms of prevention of cognitive aging and Alzheimer’s disease, and regarding the potential impact that some retirement programs might have on cognitive functioning in individuals across Europe.

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.

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