Scientific article
Open access

Residential trajectories across the life course and their association with cognitive functioning in later life

Published inScientific reports, vol. 12, no. 1
Publication date2022-10-11
First online date2022-10-11


Previous work has found that later life urban–rural differences in cognitive health can be largely explained by indicators of cognitive reserve such as education or occupation. However, previous research concentrated on residence in limited, specific, periods. This study offers a detailed investigation on the association between urban (vs. rural) residence from birth, and cognitive functioning in older age. Using data from the Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe we created residential trajectories from birth to survey enrolment with a combination of sequence and cluster analysis. Using mixed-effects models, we investigated the association between residential trajectories in early, mid, and later life and three cognitive functioning outcomes: immediate recall, delayed recall, and verbal fluency. In a sample of 38,165 participants, we found that, even after accounting for differences related to education and occupation, rural (vs. urban) residence in early life remained associated with poorer cognitive performance later in life. This suggests that growing up in rural regions leads to a long-term disadvantage in cognitive functioning. Thus, public health policies should consider that urban–rural inequalities in early life may have long-lasting associations with inequalities in cognitive health in old and very old age.

Research group
Citation (ISO format)
ORSHOLITS, Dan et al. Residential trajectories across the life course and their association with cognitive functioning in later life. In: Scientific reports, 2022, vol. 12, n° 1. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-18501-4
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal2045-2322

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