Mechanisms of Racial Disparities in Cognitive Aging: An Examination of Material and Psychosocial Well-Being

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: We tested the hypothesis that education's effect on cognitive aging operates in part through measures of material and psychosocial well-being. METHOD: Our sample was of non-Latino black and white participants of the National Social Life Health and Aging Project who had valid cognitive assessments in Waves 2 and 3 (n = 2,951; age range: 48-95). We used structural equation modeling to test for mediation and moderated mediation by income, assets, perceived stress, social status, and allostatic load on the relationships between race, education, and cognition at two time points. RESULTS: Education consistently mediated the race-cognition relationship, explaining about 20% of the relationship between race and cognition in all models. Income and assets were moderated by race; these factors were associated with cognition for whites but not blacks. Social status mediated the association between race and cognition, and social status and perceived stress mediated the education-cognition pathway. Allostatic load was not a mediator of any relationship. DISCUSSION: Education remains the best explanatory factor for cognitive aging disparities, though material well-being and subjective social status help to explain a portion of the racial disparity in cognitive aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)574-582
Number of pages9
JournalThe journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences
Volume76
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 17 2021

Keywords

  • Allostatic load
  • Cognitive aging
  • Education
  • Health disparities
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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