Cognitive Health of Older Indians: Individual and Geographic Determinants of Female Disadvantage

Jinkook Lee, RAND Corporation
Regina Shih, RAND Corporation
Kenneth M. Langa, University of Michigan
Kevin Feeney, RAND Corporation

We examine gender disparity in cognitive functioning of older adults in India, including whether women in India, like those in other developing countries, perform worse than men. One reason they may do so is their lower levels of education: education is thought to contribute to cognitive reserve, which allows cognitive function to be maintained into later life. We examine whether gender disparity in education contributes to gender disparity in cognitive functioning in later life. Using cross-sectional data from the 2010 pilot round of the Longitudinal Aging Study in India, we find that gender disparity in cognitive function exists in India, and that female cognitive disadvantage is explained by differences in educational attainment. We also find gender disparity in cognitive health is greater in northern states. We note how regional differences in Indian culture may contribute to such gender disparity in cognitive health.

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Presented in Session 58: Cognition and Aging