Abstract

This study explores the role of early-life education for differences in cognitive functioning between men and women aged 60 and older from seven major urban areas in Latin America and the Caribbean. After documenting statistically significant differences in cognitive functioning between men and women for six of the seven study sites, I assess the extent to which these differences can be explained by prevailing male-female differences in education. I decompose predicted male-female differences in cognitive functioning based on various statistical models for later-life cognition and find robust evidence that male-female differences in education are a major driving force behind cognitive functioning differences between older men and women. This study therefore suggests that early-life differences in educational attainment between boys and girls during childhood have a lasting impact on gender inequity in cognitive functioning at older ages. Increases in educational attainment and the closing of the gender gap in education in many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean may thus result in both higher levels and a more gender-equitable distribution of later-life cognition among the future elderly in those countries.

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