Neighborhood-Based Social Capital and Cognitive Function among Older Adults in Five Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Evidence from the WHO Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE).

Nan Jiang, Bei Wu, Nan Lu, Tingyue Dong

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Abstract

ObjectivesThis study aims to investigate which neighborhood‐based social capital components are associated with a higher level of cognitive function in LMICs.MethodsThis international population‐based study used cross‐sectional survey data from the World Health Organization's Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE), a study of adults aged 50 years or older in China, Ghana, India, the Russian Federation, and South Africa from 2007 through 2010 (N=29,528). Associations between neighborhood‐based social capital indicators (trust in neighbors, perceived neighborhood safety, and community participation) and cognitive function were examined using ordinary least squares regressions and random‐effects meta‐analyses.ResultsResults of the meta‐analyses of within‐country effects indicated that trust in neighbors were positively associated with cognitive function across India, Russia, and Ghana, but negatively associated in South Africa (β = ‐0.041, SE = .013, p < .01) and no effect in China (p >.05). The significant effect of perceived neighborhood safety was only found in South Africa (β = 0.051, SE = .007, p < .001) and China (β = 0.030, SE = .005, p < .001). Community participation approached a null effect in South Africa (p > .05).DiscussionDifferent indicators of neighborhood‐based social capital, which are well‐established protective resources for cognitive function, may have varied relationships with cognitive function cross‐nationally. This finding provides a better understanding of the mechanisms by which neighborhood social capital may contribute to better cognitive function in LMICs than high‐income countries, potentially due to differences in neighborhood environments, health systems, and availability of public resources.

Keywords

  • cognitive function
  • neighborhood‐based social capital
  • developing countries

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