Pathways from early life SES to dementia risk in old age: The role of personality.

The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Amanda A SeskerAngelina R Sutin


This study investigates the association between childhood socioeconomic status (cSES) and risk of cognitive impairment in older adulthood, and whether Five Factor Model personality traits mediated this association. A sample of 9,995 participants (mean age = 67.01 years) from the Health and Retirement Study were followed every two years from 2006 to 2018. cSES was tested as a predictor of risk of dementia and risk of cognitive impairment not dementia (CIND). Personality was tested as a mediator of these associations. Models were adjusted for age, gender, ethnicity, race, education, and baseline year. Although effect sizes were modest, results indicated that lower cSES was associated with higher risk of dementia (HR=0.88, [0.775, 0.985]). Higher cSES was also associated with higher Conscientiousness and lower Neuroticism. Conscientiousness and Neuroticism each accounted for 7.9% of the total effect of cSES on dementia. Results were similar for CIND. Early childhood socioeconomic factors may contribute to cognitive impairment in older adulthood, an association mediated, in part, through adult personality traits.

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