Nonlinear Relationship between the Number of Children and Late-life Cognition

Author Name BAI Yuting (Hunan University) / MARUYAMA Shiko (Jinan University) / WANG Si (Hunan University)
Creation Date/NO. May 2024 24-E-056
Research Project Economic Analysis on the problem of an aging population and a declining birthrate in China and Japan in the COVID-19 pandemic
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Late-life cognition is a growing concern as populations age. This study investigates how the number of children affects late-life cognition in rural China by exploiting the exogenous variation in the rollout timing of Family Planning Policies. Theoretical analysis suggests a nonlinear effect along the fertility dimension. Using data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study, we find nonlinear causal effects of fertility. Having one more child when the mother has 4+ children leads to adverse effects on a range of late-life cognition measures, while positive effects exist for episodic memory and mental intactness at low parities, implying hump-shaped effect heterogeneity. Underlying this hump-shaped causal relationship is increased interaction with children but a greater risk of chronic conditions.