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Does schooling improve cognitive functioning at older ages?

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Abstract

We study the relationship between education and cognitive functioning at older ages by exploiting compulsory schooling reforms, implemented in six European countries during the 1950s and 1960s. Using data of individuals aged 50+ from the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), we assess the causal effect of education on old-age memory, fluency, numeracy, orientation and dementia. We find a positive impact of schooling on memory. One year of education increases the delayed memory score by about 0.3, which amounts to 16% of the standard deviation. Furthermore, for women, we find that more education reduces the risk of dementia.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series NRN working papers with number 2012-11.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jku:nrnwps:2012_11

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Keywords: Compulsory schooling; Instrumental Variables; Education; Cognitive functioning; Memory; Aging; Dementia;

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  1. Kathleen A. Cagney & Diane S. Lauderdale, 2002. "Education, Wealth, and Cognitive Function in Later Life," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 57(2), pages P163-P172.
  2. Schneeweis, Nicole & Skirbekk, Vegard & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 2012. "Does Schooling Improve Cognitive Functioning at Older Ages?," Economics Series, Institute for Advanced Studies 293, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  3. Margherita Fort & Nichole Schneeweis & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2011. "More Schooling, More Children: Compulsory Schooling Reforms and Fertility in Europe," NRN working papers, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria 2011-11, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  4. Jürgen Maurer, 2011. "Education and Male-Female Differences in Later-Life Cognition: International Evidence From Latin America and the Caribbean," Demography, Springer, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 915-930, August.
  5. SandraE. Black & PaulJ. Devereux & KjellG. Salvanes, 2008. "Staying in the Classroom and out of the maternity ward? The effect of compulsory schooling laws on teenage births," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(530), pages 1025-1054, 07.
  6. Torberg Falch & Sofia Sandgren Massih, 2011. "The Effect Of Education On Cognitive Ability," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(3), pages 838-856, 07.
  7. Giorgio Brunello & Margherita Fort & Guglielmo Weber, 2009. "Changes in Compulsory Schooling, Education and the Distribution of Wages in Europe," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(536), pages 516-539, 03.
  8. Garrouste, Christelle, 2010. "100 years of educational reforms in Europe: a contextual database," MPRA Paper 31853, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Giorgio Brunello & Daniele Fabbri & Margherita Fort, 2013. "The Causal Effect of Education on Body Mass: Evidence from Europe," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 195 - 223.
  10. James Banks & Fabrizio Mazzonna, 2012. "The Effect of Education on Old Age Cognitive Abilities: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(560), pages 418-448, 05.
  11. Elizabeth U. Cascio & Ethan G. Lewis, 2006. "Schooling and the Armed Forces Qualifying Test: Evidence from School-Entry Laws," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
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Cited by:
  1. Schneeweis, Nicole & Skirbekk, Vegard & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 2012. "Does Schooling Improve Cognitive Functioning at Older Ages?," IZA Discussion Papers 6958, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Daniel A. Kamhöfer & Hendrik Schmitz, 2013. "Analyzing Zero Returns to Education in Germany: Heterogeneous Effects and Skill Formation," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 598, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

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