Occupational activity and cognitive reserve: implications in terms of prevention of cognitive aging and Alzheimer’s disease
Stéphane Adam1, Eric Bonsang2, Catherine Grotz1, Sergio Perelman3
1Unité de Psychologie de la Sénescence, University of Liège, Belgium; 2Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market, Maastricht University, The Netherlands; 3Center of Research in Public Economics and Population Economics, University of Liège, Belgium
Abstract: 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.
Keywords: cognitive aging, cognitive reserve, retirement, Alzheimer’s disease
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