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A cross-country comparison of math achievement at teen age and cognitive performance 40 years later

Skirbekk, Vegard and Bordone, Valeria and Weber, Daniela (2014) A cross-country comparison of math achievement at teen age and cognitive performance 40 years later. Demographic Research, 31. pp. 105-118. ISSN 1435-9871

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Abstract

BACKGROUND Maintaining cognitive functioning through mid- to late-life is relevant for the individual and societal aim of active ageing. Evidence shows considerable stability in individual-level rank-ordering of cognitive functioning, but little attention has been given to cohort performance over the life cycle and macro-level factors that could affect it. OBJECTIVE The main goal of this paper is to address cross-national variation in mental performance from younger to older ages. METHODS Using a quasi-longitudinal approach, we compare the relative country ranking in standardised mathematical test scores of young teenagers in 1964 from the First International Mathematics Study (FIMS) and cognitive test performance at mid-life in 2004, based on the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe(SHARE) for the cohort born between 1949 and 1952. RESULTS Our results show that those countries which had the highest scores in math tests taken by 13-year-old-grade-level students are not the same countries that, 40 years later, have the top performing scores in cognitive tests among mid-age adults. CONCLUSIONS This article highlights the importance of considering country-level influences on cognitive change over the life cycle, in addition to individual characteristics, and provides some descriptive findings that could be incorporated with further research on the link between specific contextual factors and cognitive functioning.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This work was supported by Starting Grant of the European Research Council, Grant Agreement 241003-COHORT and a Wittgenstein Award of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF): Z171-G11.
Divisions: Departments > Sozioökonomie > Sozialpolitik > Demographie > Wittgenstein Centre
Version of the Document: Published
Depositing User: Gertraud Novotny
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2017 14:01
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2017 21:56
Related URLs:
FIDES Link: https://bach.wu.ac.at/d/research/results/75628/
URI: http://epub.wu.ac.at/id/eprint/5851

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