Childhood cognitive function and later-life economic activity: Linking the Scottish Mental Survey 1947 to administrative data
Iveson, M., Deary, I.J. & Dibben, C. (2018) CALLS Hub conference, University of St Andrews, UK, 23 March 2018 [SLS]
As the population ages, older adults are expected to work later into their lives. However, older adults experience particular challenges in staying economically active, even before reaching statutory retirement. Recent work has suggested that early-life circumstances – such as childhood socioeconomic circumstances, childhood cognitive ability and education – can have long-lasting consequences for mid-life economic activity. In the present study, we investigate whether these same early-life factors contribute to the odds of being economically active much later in life, from ages 55 to 75. To do so, we capitalise on recent initiatives to link data between a subsample of the Scottish Mental Survey 1947 cohort and the Scottish Longitudinal Study, which includes 3 waves of national census data (1991, 2001 and 2011). Latent growth curve analyses were used to assess the direct and indirect associations between early-life factors and later-life economic activity, for males and females separately. Notably, the odds of being economically active decreased non-linearly across the 20-year follow-up period for both males and females. For males, higher odds of being economically active at age 55 were predicted by higher childhood cognitive ability and higher educational attainment. For females, higher odds of being economically active at age 55 were predicted by higher childhood socioeconomic status and higher childhood cognitive ability. In contrast, there was little evidence to support the contribution of early-life factors to the odds of becoming inactive over the 20-year follow- up period. We suggest that early-life advantage may contribute to the capacity for work in later-life, but that it does not necessarily protect from subsequent decline in this capacity.