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The changing face of cognitive gender differences in Europe
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Aging Research Center (ARC), (together with KI).
2014 (English)In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, ISSN 0027-8424, E-ISSN 1091-6490, Vol. 111, no 32, 11673-11678 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Cognitive gender differences and the reasons for their origins have fascinated researchers for decades. Using nationally representative data to investigate gender differences in cognitive performance in middle-aged and older populations across Europe, we show that the magnitude of these differences varies systematically across cognitive tasks, birth cohorts, and regions, but also that the living conditions and educational opportunities individuals are exposed to during their formative years are related to their later cognitive performance. Specifically, we demonstrate that improved living conditions and less gender-restricted educational opportunities are associated with increased gender differences favoring women in some cognitive functions (i.e., episodic memory) and decreases (i.e., numeracy) or elimination of differences in other cognitive abilities (i.e., category fluency). Our results suggest that these changes take place due to a general increase in women's cognitive performance over time, associated with societal improvements in living conditions and educational opportunities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 111, no 32, 11673-11678 p.
Keyword [en]
cognitive aging, gender inequality, sex differences, cross-cultural research
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-107101DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1319538111ISI: 000340097900034OAI: diva2:743918


Available from: 2014-09-05 Created: 2014-09-03 Last updated: 2014-09-05Bibliographically approved

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Aging Research Center (ARC), (together with KI)
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