Effects of retirement on cognitive function: A gender and international perspecive
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Background: As the global population is ageing, studying cognitive impairments including dementia, one of the leading causes of disability in old age worldwide, is of fundamental importance to public health. As a major transition in older age, a focus on the complex impacts of the duration, timing, and voluntariness of retirement on health is important for policy changes in the future. Longer retirement periods, as well as leaving the workforce early, have been associated with poorer health, including reduced cognitive functioning. These associations are hypothesized to differ based on gender, as well as on pre-retirement educational and occupational experiences, and on post-retirement social factors and health conditions. Methods: A cross-sectional study is conducted to determine the relationship between duration and timing of retirement and cognitive function, using data from the five sites of International Mobility in Aging Study (IMIAS). Cognitive function is assessed using the Leganes Cognitive Test (LCT) scores in 2012. Data are analyzed using multiple linear regressions. Analyses are also done by site/region separately (Canada, Latin America, and Albania). Robustness checks are done with an analysis of cognitive change from 2012 to 2014, the effect of voluntariness of retirement on cognitive function. An instrumental variable (IV) approach is also applied to the cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses as a robustness check to address the potential endogeneity of the retirement variable. Results: Descriptive statistics highlight differences between men and women, as well as between sites. In linear regression analysis, there was no relationship between timing or duration of retirement and cognitive function in 2012, when adjusting for site/region. There was no association between retirement characteristics and cognitive function in site/region/stratified analyses. In IV analysis, longer retirement and on time or late retirement was associated with lower cognitive function among men. In IV analysis, there is no relationship between retirement characteristics and cognitive function among women. Conclusions: While results of the thesis suggest a negative effect of retirement on cognitive function, especially among men, the relationship remains uncertain. A lack of power results in the inability to draw conclusions for site/region-specific analysis and site-adjusted analysis in both linear and IV regressions.