World Population Program (POP) researchers examined data from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe, which tested the cognitive functions of more than 31,000 men and women over the age of 50 from 13 European countries.

© Pogonici | Dreamstime © (c) Pogonici |

© Pogonici | Dreamstime

The results of the study show that gender differences in cognitive abilities affected survey participants’ living conditions and educational opportunities from entry into adulthood through middle age. In the cross-country comparison of cognitive changes over the life cycle [1] the important role of national-level influences, including, among other things, differences in educational systems and programs and in economic activities were revealed when two surveys carried out 40 years apart were merged.

POP scientist Elke Loichinger contributed to a study on the positive impacts that population aging may have on societies in the context of increasing education levels; the research used Germany, a country at an advanced stage of the demographic transition, as a case study [2]. Increased productivity, lower carbon dioxide emissions, intergenerational transfers, and overall better quality of life were all discovered to be areas where aging considered in combination with other demographic factors can bring benefits to societies. 


[1] Skirbekk V, Bordone V, Weber D (2014). A cross-country comparison of math achievement at teen age and cognitive performance 40 years later. Demographic Research, 31(4):105-118. 

[2] Kluge F, Zagheni E, Loichinger E, Vogt T (2014). The advantages of demographic change after the wave: Fewer and older, but healthier, greener, and more productive? PLoS ONE, 9(9):e108501.

Print this page

Last edited: 12 March 2015

Further information



International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313