BackgroundLow socioeconomic status (SES) in early and late life has been associated with lower late-life cognition. Less is known about how changes in SES from childhood to late life are associated with late-life cognition, especially among diverse populations of older adults.
MethodsIn a multi-ethnic sample (n = 1353) of older adults, we used linear regression to test associations of change in comprehensive measures of SES (financial, cultural, and social domains) from childhood to late life with semantic memory, episodic memory, and executive function. We tested whether the association between SES trajectory and late-life cognition differed by populations who resided in the U.S. during childhood or immigrated to the U.S. as adults.
ResultsParticipants with low childhood/high late-life financial capital had better semantic memory (β = 0.18; 95% CI: 0.04, 0.32) versus those with low financial capital in both childhood and late life, regardless of childhood residence. We observed a significant interaction in the association of verbal episodic memory and cultural capital by childhood residence (p = 0.08). Participants with a foreign childhood residence had higher verbal episodic memory if they had low childhood/high late-life cultural capital (β = 0.32; 95% CI: 0.01, 0.63), but lower verbal episodic memory if they had high childhood/low late-life cultural capital (β = - 0.40; 95% CI: - 0.94, 0.13). Having high lifecourse social capital was associated with better verbal episodic memory scores among those with a U.S. childhood (β = 0.34; 95% CI: 0.14, 0.55), but lower verbal episodic memory among those with a foreign childhood (β = - 0.10; 95% CI: - 0.51, 0.31).
ConclusionsHigh financial and cultural capital in late life is associated with better cognition, regardless of early childhood SES or childhood residence.