Childhood socio-economic circumstances, cognitive function and education and later-life economic activity: linking the Scottish Mental Survey 1947 to administrative data

Iveson, M., Dibben, D., Deary, I.J. (2020) Longitudinal and Life Course Studies 11(1), pp. 55-79(25) Bristol University Press 1 January 2020. [SLS]

Other information: Abstract: As the population ages, older adults are expected to work for longer into the life course. However, older adults experience particular problems staying economically active, even prior to reaching statutory retirement. Recent work has suggested that economic activity in midlife can be predicted by the far-reaching effects of early life, such as childhood socio-economic circumstances, cognitive ability and education. The present study investigates whether these same early-life factors predict the odds of being economically active much later in life, from age 55 to age 75. We capitalise on data linkage conducted between a subsample of the Scottish Mental Survey 1947 cohort and the Scottish Longitudinal Study, which includes three waves of national census data (1991, 2001 and 2011). The structural association between early-life factors and later-life economic activity was assessed using latent growth curve analyses conducted for males and females separately. In both males and females, the odds of being economically active decreased non-linearly across the 20-year follow-up period. For males, greater odds of being economically active at age 55 were predicted by higher childhood cognitive ability and higher educational attainment. For females, greater odds of being economically active at age 55 were predicted by higher childhood socio-economic status and higher childhood cognitive ability. In contrast, early-life factors did not predict 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.

Available online: Longitudinal and Life Course Studies
Output from project: 2017_001

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