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Gender Differences in Cognition in China and Reasons for Change over Time: Evidence from CHARLS

Author

Listed:
  • Lei, Xiaoyan

    () (Peking University)

  • Smith, James P.

    () (RAND)

  • Sun, Xiaoting

    (Peking University)

  • Zhao, Yaohui

    () (Peking University)

Abstract

In this paper, we model gender differences in cognitive ability in China using a new sample of middle-aged and older Chinese respondents. Modeled after the American Health and Retirement Survey (HRS), CHARLS respondents are 45 years and older and are nationally representative of the Chinese population in this age span. Our measures of cognition in CHARLS relies on two measures that proxy for different dimensions of adult cognition – episodic memory and intact mental status. We relate these cognitive measures to adult health and SES outcomes during the adult years. We find large cognitive differences to the detriment of women that were mitigated by large gender differences in education among these generations of Chinese people. These gender differences in cognition are especially concentrated in the older age groups and poorer communities within the sample. We also investigated historical, geographical, and cultural characteristics of communities to understand how they impact cognition. Economic development and environmental improvement such as having electricity, increase in wage per capita and green coverage ratio generally contribute to higher cognition ability. Women benefit more from the fruits of development – electricity and growth of green coverage ratio are conducive to lessening female disadvantage in cognition.

Suggested Citation

  • Lei, Xiaoyan & Smith, James P. & Sun, Xiaoting & Zhao, Yaohui, 2013. "Gender Differences in Cognition in China and Reasons for Change over Time: Evidence from CHARLS," IZA Discussion Papers 7536, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7536
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Xiaoyan Lei & Yuqing Hu & John J. McArdle & James P. Smith & Yaohui Zhao, 2012. "Gender Differences in Cognition among Older Adults in China," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(4), pages 951-971.
    2. María-Victoria Zunzunegui & Beatriz E. Alvarado & Teodoro Del Ser & Angel Otero, 2003. "Social Networks, Social Integration, and Social Engagement Determine Cognitive Decline in Community-Dwelling Spanish Older Adults," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 58(2), pages 93-100.
    3. William L. Parish & Robert J. Willis, 1993. "Daughters, Education, and Family Budgets Taiwan Experiences," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 28(4), pages 863-898.
    4. Gary S. Becker & William H. J. Hubbard & Kevin M. Murphy, 2010. "Explaining the Worldwide Boom in Higher Education of Women," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 203-241.
    5. James P. Smith & Yan Shen & John Strauss & Yang Zhe & Yaohui Zhao, 2012. "The Effects of Childhood Health on Adult Health and SES in China," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(1), pages 127-156.
    6. Strauss, John & Thomas, Duncan, 2008. "Health over the Life Course," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Liu, Gordon G. & Xue, Xindong & Yu, Chenxi & Wang, Yafeng, 2016. "How does social capital matter to the health status of older adults? Evidence from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Survey," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 177-189.
    2. repec:eee:joecag:v:4:y:2014:i:c:p:56-58 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:joecag:v:4:y:2014:i:c:p:37-43 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    China; cognition;

    JEL classification:

    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General

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