08 September 2022

Earning little is harmful

According to a new study conducted by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, consistently low wages are associated with significantly faster memory deterioration later in life. It has already been proven that low-paid work is associated with health consequences such as depressive disorders, obesity and hypertension, which are risk factors for early cognitive aging. So far, none of the previous studies have examined the specific relationship between low wages during working years and cognitive status in later life. The results of the study were presented at the International Conference of the Alzheimer's Association (AAIC®), held online in August 2022 (Lower Socio-Economic Status in Childhood, Persistent Low Wages Linked to Risk for Dementia and Faster Memory Decline).

The study provided new evidence that long-term exposure to the low-wage factor in the years of peak earnings is associated with accelerated memory deterioration later in life. This relationship was observed both in the primary sample and in the validation cohort.

The group used data from the National Health and Retirement Study (HRS) of adults for 1992-2016, analyzed data from 2,879 people born between 1936 and 1941. Low wages were defined as hourly wages below two-thirds of the average federal wage for the corresponding year. The researchers divided the study participants into those who never received low wages, periodically received low wages or always received low wages between 1992 and 2004, and then studied the association with memory loss over the next 12 years from 2004 to 2016.

The researchers found that compared to workers who had never received low wages, persistently low-paid workers experienced significantly faster memory decline in old age. They showed about one extra year of cognitive aging over a 10-year period. In other words, the level of cognitive aging over a 10-year period for permanently low-paid workers will be the same as for 11 years for those who have never received low wages.

In the US, the federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 per hour since 2009. Although economic growth has accelerated since then, wage growth for workers, especially those in low-paid jobs, has slowed over time, and the minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation.

Thus, social policies aimed at improving the financial well-being of low-paid workers can be especially useful for cognitive health. In future work, the authors plan to carefully study the number of cases of dementia and excess years of cognitive aging that could be prevented under various hypothetical scenarios associated with an increase in the minimum hourly wage.

Aminat Adzhieva, portal "Eternal Youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru according to EurekAlert: Persistent low wages linked to faster memory decline in later life.

Found a typo? Select it and press ctrl + enter Print version