Events & Seminars

Social Science Seminar
Life course work-family sequences and cognitive function among women in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe

Long-term exposure to the stress and stimulation of different work, parenting, and partnership combinations may influence later life cognition. This study investigated the relationship between women’s work-family life histories and cognitive functioning in later life. Analyses were based on data from women in 14 European countries born between 1930 and 1957 from the Survey of Health, Aging, and Retirement in Europe (2004-9). Multichannel sequence analysis identified five distinct work-family typologies based on women’s work, partnership, and child-rearing statuses between ages 12 and 50. Multilevel regressions tested the association between work-family histories and later life cognition. Partnered mothers who mainly worked full- or part-time had the best cognitive function in later life, adjusting for age. Partnered mothers who were mainly unpaid caregivers or did other unpaid activities had cognitive scores that were significantly lower than those of full-time working mothers. Findings are robust to adjustment for childhood advantage and formal educational attainment. This study provides new evidence that long-term exposures to certain social role combinations after childhood and schooling are linked to later life cognition, and we discuss the importance of welfare state arrangements for these patterns.

Professor Sarah Burgard
University of Michigan
November 15, 2019 (Friday)
Dean's suite, Room 3360 (Lifts 13-15), Academic Building, HKUST
Division of Social Science