Linked Lives: Offspring Education and Parents’ Cognitive Functioning in Later Life

Minle Xu , University of Texas at Austin

The interdependence between parents and children suggests that one generation can have a significant impact on the other generation’s life. Previous studies have primarily centered on parental influence on children’s well-being. This study, however, focuses on upward intergenerational transmission from adult children to parents. Specifically, it examines whether offspring education is associated with parents’ cognitive functioning in later life after controlling for parents’ education, and whether this association varies by parents’ age and gender. Growth curve models were estimated by using eight waves of data from the Health and Retirement Study (N=13,568). Results show that offspring education is positively associated with parents’ cognitive functioning in later life net of parental education. Further investigation reveals that the positive association between offspring education and parents’ cognitive functioning varies by parents’ age but not parents’ gender. These findings highlight the importance of adopting a multigenerational perspective for studying cognitive health and aging.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 14. Cognitive Aging