Effects of Social Activities on Cognitive Functions: Evidence from CHARLS

42 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2012

See all articles by Yuqing Hu

Yuqing Hu

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Xiaoyan Lei

Peking University - CCER

James P. Smith

RAND Corporation; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Yaohui Zhao

Peking University

Date Written: January 27, 2012

Abstract

Using the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) 2008 pilot, the authors investigate the relationship between cognitive abilities and social activities for people aged 45 or older. They group cognition measures into two dimensions: intact mental status and episodic memory. Social activities are defined as participating in certain common specified activities in China such as playing chess, card games, or Mahjong, interacting with friends, and other social activities. OLS association results show that playing Mahjong, chess or card games and interacting with friends are significantly related with episodic memory, both individually and taken as a whole (any of the 3 activities), but individually they are not related to mental intactness while taken as a whole they are. Because social activities may be endogenous, they further investigate using OLS reduced form models whether having facilities that enables social activities in the community level is related to cognition. They find that having an activity center in the community is significantly related to higher episodic memory but no relation to mental intactness. These results point to a possible causal relationship between social activities and cognitive function, especially in strengthening short-term memory.

Keywords: social activity, cognitive function, CHARLS

Suggested Citation

Hu, Yuqing and Lei, Xiaoyan and Smith, James P. and Zhao, Yaohui, Effects of Social Activities on Cognitive Functions: Evidence from CHARLS (January 27, 2012). RAND Working Paper Series WR-918. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1993328 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1993328

Yuqing Hu (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Xiaoyan Lei

Peking University - CCER ( email )

No. 38 Xueyuan Road
Haidian District
Beijing, Beijing 100871
China

James P. Smith

RAND Corporation ( email )

P.O. Box 2138
1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Yaohui Zhao

Peking University ( email )

Department of Economics
Beijing 100871
China

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