Cognition and Ses Relationships Among the Mid-Aged and Elderly: A Comparison of China and Indonesia

70 Pages Posted: 16 May 2018 Last revised: 21 May 2018

See all articles by John Strauss

John Strauss

University of Southern California - Department of Economics

Firman Witoelar

SurveyMETER

Qinqin Meng

Peking University - Institute of Social Science Survey - ISSS

Xinxin Chen

Peking University - Institute of Social Science Survey - ISSS

Yaohui Zhao

Peking University

Bondan Sikoki

SurveyMETER

Stephen Yafeng Wang

Peking University - Institute of Social Science Survey - ISSS

Date Written: May 2018

Abstract

In this paper, we use a measure of fluid intelligence, an adaptive number series test, to measure that part of cognition for respondents in two developing countries: China and Indonesia, both with very low educated elderly populations. This test was specially adapted by us and our collaborators from measures used in the United States to better fit such populations. We also use a measure of episodic memory and one measuring mental state intactness and examine their distributions and then the socio-economic gradients associated with each, concentrating on gender differences and how those change as SES and variables measuring community development are added.We find large variation in our cognition measures in both countries, even among those 60 and over with no schooling. We explore the bivariate socio-economic gradients for these measures, separately for different age groups: 45-59 and 60 and above. We find strong gender, education and rural-urban gradients. Of these, the education gradient is the strongest, followed by the rural-urban gradient. China has a stronger rural-urban gradient than Indonesia, which is associated with the hukou residential permit system in China. We find a significant, negative multivariate differential for women, that is significantly larger in China than Indonesia. The gender differential in both countries is smaller for the mid-aged, 45-59, for whom the gender schooling differentials are smaller. The gender differential declines substantially, and the China-Indonesia differential disappears once we control for SES characteristics. Adding community measures related to mean schooling and asset levels does not affect the gender differential.Schooling levels are monotonically and significantly related to higher levels of cognition for all three of the variables we use. The magnitudes of the schooling coefficients are relatively large. Higher log of household per capita expenditure (pce) is positively associated with cognition, more so in China. Other SES characteristics such as height, are also positively related to the cognition measures, again more strongly so in China. Rural respondents have substantially lower levels of cognition measures, with a significantly stronger gradient in China. Mean community level schooling and log pce are also positively related to cognition outcomes, especially for elderly women.

Suggested Citation

Strauss, John and Witoelar, Firman and Meng, Qinqin and Chen, Xinxin and Zhao, Yaohui and Sikoki, Bondan and Wang, Stephen Yafeng, Cognition and Ses Relationships Among the Mid-Aged and Elderly: A Comparison of China and Indonesia (May 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24583. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3177943

John Strauss (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Department of Economics ( email )

306A Kaprielian Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Firman Witoelar

SurveyMETER ( email )

Jl. Jenengan Raya No.109
Maguwoharjo, Depok, Sleman
Yogyakarta, 55282
Indonesia

Qinqin Meng

Peking University - Institute of Social Science Survey - ISSS ( email )

Beijing
China

Xinxin Chen

Peking University - Institute of Social Science Survey - ISSS ( email )

Beijing
China

Yaohui Zhao

Peking University ( email )

Department of Economics
Beijing 100871
China

Bondan Sikoki

SurveyMETER ( email )

Jl. Jenengan Raya No.109
Maguwoharjo, Depok, Sleman
Yogyakarta, 55282
Indonesia

Stephen Yafeng Wang

Peking University - Institute of Social Science Survey - ISSS ( email )

Beijing
China

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