The Education of Family Members and Older Adult Cognitive Health: Differences across Racial Groups
Jenjira Yahirun1, Sindhu Vasidreddy2, Mark Hayward3
1Bowling Green State University, 2SRM University - AP, 3University of Texas at Austin
The educational resources of family members play a critical role in shaping cognitive health over the life course. Prior theorizing on the effects of family members’ resources applies either a “long arm” approach, emphasizing the resources of prior generations, or a “social foreground” framework, highlighting the education of adult children. Our study uses both approaches by examining whether the correlates of parental and offspring education and later-life cognitive impairment differ for older Blacks and Whites in the United States. Using data from the U.S. Health and Retirement Study, we found that the protective effect of children’s college education was only significant for Blacks, but not Whites, after the inclusion of health conditions and behaviors. Our results suggest that older black adults may more strongly leverage the educational resources of family members to prevent the onset of cognitive decline compared to older Whites.