Does Education Improve Cognitive Performance Four Decades After School Completion?
- 1.1k Downloads
We study the effect of secondary education on cognitive performance toward the end of working age. We exploit the exogenous variation in years of schooling arising from compulsory schooling reforms implemented in six European countries during the 1950s and 1960s. Using data of individuals, approximately age 60, from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), we assess the causal effect of education on memory, fluency, numeracy, and orientation-to-date. Furthermore, we study education effects on cognitive decline. We find a positive impact of schooling on memory scores. One year of education increases the memory score approximately four decades later by about 0.2, which amounts to 10 % of a standard deviation. Furthermore, we find some evidence for a protective effect of schooling on cognitive decline in terms of verbal fluency.
KeywordsCompulsory education Cognitive functioning Memory Aging
We would like to thank four anonymous referees, René Böheim, Taryn Galloway, Bill Butz, and Eric Bonsang, as well as seminar participants in Wuppertal and Aarhus for useful comments. We thank the Austrian FWF for funding of the Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Welfare State. The SHARE data collection has been primarily funded by the EU through the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Framework Programme, the U.S. National Institute of Aging (NIA), and other national funds (e.g., the Austrian Ministries of Science and Social Affairs). We acknowledge support by a Starting Grant of the European Research Council, Grant Agreement 241003-COHORT. The usual disclaimer applies.
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2010). Preventing Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline (AHRQ Publication No. 10-E005). Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.Google Scholar
- Anstey, K. J., von Sanden, C., Salim, A., & O’Kearney, R. (2007). Smoking as a risk factor for dementia and cognitive decline: A meta-analysis of prospective studies. American Journal of Epidemiology, 166, 367–378.Google Scholar
- Bingley, P., & Martinello, A. (2011). Retirement improves cognitive performance (Working Paper No. 07). Copenhagen, Denmark: Danish National Center for Social Research.Google Scholar
- Brunello, G., Fabbri, D., & Fort, M. (2013). The causal effect of education on the body mass: Evidence from Europe. Journal of Labor Economics, 31, 195–223.Google Scholar
- Brunello, G., Fort, M., Schneeweis, N., & Winter-Ebmer, R. (2011). The causal effect of education on health: What’s the role of health behaviors? (IZA Discussion Paper No. 5944). Bonn, Germany: Institute for the Study of Labor.Google Scholar
- Brunello, G., Fort, M., & Weber, G. (2009). Changes in compulsory schooling, education and the distribution of wages in Europe. Economic Journal, 119, 516–539.Google Scholar
- Cascio, E. U., & Lewis, E. G. (2006). Schooling and the armed forces qualifying test. Evidence from school-entry laws. Journal of Human Resources, 41, 294–318.Google Scholar
- Fort, M., Schneeweis, N., & Winter-Ebmer, R. (2011). More schooling, more children: Compulsory schooling reforms and fertility in Europe (IZA Discussion Paper No. 6015). Bonn, Germany: Institute for the Study of Labor.Google Scholar
- Garrouste, C. (2010). 100 years of educational reforms in Europe: A contextual database. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.Google Scholar
- Hakansson, K., Rovio, S., Helkala, E.-L., Vilska, A.-R., Winblad, B., Soininen, H., . . . Kivipelto, M. (2009). Association between mid-life marital status and cognitive function in later life: Population based cohort study. British Medical Journal, 339, 1–8.Google Scholar
- Neisser, U., Boodoo, B., Bouchard, T., Boykin, A., Brody, B., Ceci, S., . . . Sternberg, S. (1997). Intelligence: Knowns and unknowns. In M. E. Hertzig & E. A. Faber (Eds.), Annual progress in child psychiatry and child development (pp. 95–134). Philadelphia, PA: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
- Ninomiya, T., Ohara, T., Hirakawa, Y., Yoshida, D., Doi, Y., Hata, J., . . . Kiyohara, Y. (2011). Midlife and late-life blood pressure and dementia in Japanese elderly: The Hisayama study. Hypertension, 58, 22–28.Google Scholar
- Nisbett, R. (2009). Intelligence and how to get it: Why schools and cultures count. New York, NY: WW Norton.Google Scholar
- Potter, G. G., Helms, M. J., & Plassman, B. L. (2008). Associations of job demands and intelligence with cognitive performance among men in late life. American Journal of Epidemiology, 70, 1803–1808.Google Scholar
- Salthouse, T. (2010). Major issues in cognitive aging (Oxford Psychology Series). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- United Nations. (2011). World population prospects. New York, NY: United Nations Population Division.Google Scholar
- Warr, P. (1994). Age and employment. In H. C. Triandis, M. D. Dunnette, & L. M. Hough (Eds.), Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology (Vol. 4, pp. 485–550). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologist Press.Google Scholar