Heterogenous Trajectories in Physical, Mental and Cognitive Health among Older Americans: Roles of Genetics and Earlier SES

32 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2021

See all articles by Cung Truong Hoang

Cung Truong Hoang

University of Pennsylvania - The Penn Institute for Economic Research (PIER)

Vikesh Amin

Central Michigan University

Jere Behrman

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics

Hans-Peter Kohler

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Sociology

Iliana V. Kohler

University of Pennsylvania - Population Aging Research Center (PARC); Population Studies Center

Date Written: October 4, 2021

Abstract

We investigate the roles of genetic predispositions, childhood SES and adult schooling attainment in shaping trajectories for three important components of the overall health and wellbeing of older adults -- BMI, depressive symptoms and cognition. We use the Health & Retirement Study (HRS) and group-based trajectory modelling (GBTM) to identify subgroups of people who share the same underlying trajectories over ages 50-94 years. After identifying common underlying trajectories, we use fractional multinomial logit models to estimate associations of (1) polygenic scores for BMI, depression, ever-smoked, education, cognition and subjective wellbeing, (2) childhood SES and (3) schooling attainment on the probabilities of trajectory group membership. While genetic predispositions do play a part in predicting trajectory group membership, our results highlight the long arm of socioeconomic factors. Schooling attainment is the most robust predictor—it predicts increased probabilities of belonging to trajectories with BMI in the normal rage, low depressive symptoms and high initial cognition. Childhood circumstances are manifested in trajectories to a lesser extent, with childhood SES only predicting the likelihood of being on the low depressive symptoms trajectory. We also find suggestive evidence that associations of schooling attainment on the probabilities of being on trajectories with BMI in the normal rage, low depressive symptoms and high initial cognition vary with genetic predispositions.

Note:
Funding Information: We acknowledge research funding from NIH grant number 1R01HD094011-01 (PI Amin).

Declaration of Interests: None to declare.

Keywords: aging trajectories; polygenic scores; childhood socioeconomic status; schooling; HRS; GBTM

Suggested Citation

Hoang, Cung Truong and Amin, Vikesh and Behrman, Jere R. and Kohler, Hans-Peter and Kohler, Iliana V., Heterogenous Trajectories in Physical, Mental and Cognitive Health among Older Americans: Roles of Genetics and Earlier SES (October 4, 2021). PIER Working Paper No. 21-024, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3935985 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3935985

Cung Truong Hoang

University of Pennsylvania - The Penn Institute for Economic Research (PIER) ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States

Vikesh Amin

Central Michigan University

Jere R. Behrman (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science
133 South 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
United States
215-898-7704 (Phone)
215-573-2057 (Fax)

Hans-Peter Kohler

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Sociology ( email )

3718 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
United States
215-898-7686 (Phone)
215-898-2124 (Fax)

Iliana V. Kohler

University of Pennsylvania - Population Aging Research Center (PARC) ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States
215-898-7990 (Phone)
215-898-2124 (Fax)

Population Studies Center ( email )

3718 Locust Walk
School of Arts and Sciences
Philadelphia, PA Pennsylvania 19104-6298
United States
215-898-7990 (Phone)
215-898-2124 (Fax)

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