The cognitive and economic impact of social activities in older age: Evidence from 17 European countries

Using harmonized micro data from 17 European countries, we investigate the causal impact of being socially active on old age cognition. To this effect, we employ nonparametric bounds-based partial identification methods that require fairly weak assumptions. We find that social activities have a strong positive effect on cognition, as the narrowest identification regions of the treatment effect exclude zero. This result is more likely to hold for females
than for males. We also provide evidence, again using bounds-based estimation, on the economic significance of social participation by examining the beneficial effect of higher cognition on households’ economic well-being.

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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