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Living through economic recessions linked to later cognitive decline

November 21, 2013|By Ricardo Lopez
  • A new study suggests that living through a recession can affect cognitive functions later in life. Above, a file photo shows a trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 2009.
A new study suggests that living through a recession can affect cognitive… (Richard Drew / Associated…)

A new study indicates that adults who live through economic recessions during certain periods of adulthood may be at higher risk for cognitive decline later in life, according to results published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 

The research, based on a survey of 12,000 people in 11 European countries, found that men who experienced one or more recessions from age 45 to 49 had lower cognitive scores between the ages of 50 and 74, compared with men who experienced no recessions in their late 40s. A similar trend applied to women who experienced recessions at ages 25 to 44.

“Our findings suggest that potentially unanticipated macroeconomic shocks during vulnerable periods in mid-life may affect an individual’s potential to accumulate cognitive reserve,” the report said.

Though the research suggests a link between economic recessions and cognitive decline, further research is necessary to make any concrete conclusions.

"If replicated in future studies, findings indicate that policies that ameliorate the impact of recessions on labor market outcomes may promote later-life cognitive function," the study's authors said.

Cognitive function was based on tests that assessed verbal fluency, math skills and memory. 

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