Offspring Educational Attainment and Older Parents’ Cognition in Mexico

Mingming Ma , Shanghai University of Finance and Economics
Jenjira Yahirun, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Joseph Saenz, University of Southern California
Connor Sheehan, University of Southern California

Disparities in later-life cognitive health point to the importance of family resources. Although the bulk of prior work establishes the directional flow of resources from parents to offspring, the “linked lives” perspective raises the question of whether offspring resources could affect parental health as well. This paper examines how children’s education influences parents’ cognitive health in Mexico, where a 1993 compulsory schooling reform increased the educational attainment of recent birth cohorts. Applying an instrumental variables approach, we found that each year of offspring schooling was associated with higher overall cognition among parents, but was less predictive across the different cognitive functioning domains. Offspring schooling was only associated with verbal learning, verbal fluency, and orientation, but not visual scanning, visuo-spatial ability, or visual memory. We suggest that more frequent, rich communication between educated offspring and their parents could help to explain our results and describe avenues for future research.

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 Presented in Session 38. Intergenerational Processes in Population Health