Journal Article

Cognitive impairment and partnership status in the United States, 1998–2016, by sex, race/ethnicity, and education

Population Studies, 1–11 (2023)
Open Access


Cognitively impaired adults without a partner are highly disadvantaged, as partners constitute an importantsource of caregiving and emotional support. With the application of innovative multistate models to theHealth and Retirement Study, this paper is the first to estimate joint expectancies of cognitive andpartnership status at age 50 by sex, race/ethnicity, and education in the United States. We find thatwomen live a decade longer unpartnered than men. Women are also disadvantaged as they experience three more years as both cognitively impaired and unpartnered than men. Black women live over twiceas long as cognitively impaired and unpartnered compared with White women. Lower-educated menand women live around three and five years longer, respectively, as cognitively impaired andunpartnered than more highly educated men and women. This study addresses a novel facet ofpartnership and cognitive status dynamics and examines their variations by key socio-demographic factors.

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.