Short-Term Impact of Income on Cognitive Function: Evidence From a Sample of Mexican Older Adults

Dementia, a clinical syndrome characterized by a progressive deterioration in cognitive function and the ability to perform everyday activities, is the leading contributor to disability in old age in low- and middle-income countries. We estimate the short-run (6-9 months) impact and mediating mechanisms of an intervention providing supplemental income to individuals 70 years and above from the Mexican state of Yucatan on markers of cognitive functioning (immediate and delayed word recall).

We use regression-adjusted difference-in-differences (DID) analysis using baseline and follow-up data collected at treatment and control sites from an experiment. We find the intervention improved immediate and delayed recall scores for men and women. We found no effects on diagnoses of dementia risk factors, depression, and activities of daily living (ADLs). The intervention increased health care use and decreased anemia for men and women, and improved food availability for men. The effects on cognitive outcomes were mediated by health care use for both men and women, and food availability for men.

In low- and middle-income countries, supplemental income for the elderly may be an effective strategy to improve cognitive function by increasing food security and health care utilization.

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Citation: Aguila, E., & Casanova, M. (2019). Short-term impact of income on cognitive function: evidence from a sample of Mexican older adults. Journal of Aging and Health, 0898264319841155.