A cross-cultural perspective on aging and memory: Comparisons between Bangladesh and Sweden.

Abstract

Most studies on cognitive aging have been conducted in high-income countries (mainly on Western populations). The main aim of this study was to compare the relative importance of predictors of episodic and semantic memory performance in older people (≥60 years) from Bangladesh (n = 400) and Sweden (n = 1,098). Hierarchical regression models were used in order to study the importance of some commonly used predictors in the two countries. A main finding was that variations in age did not have much impact on episodic and semantic memory performance in Bangladesh. Instead, sex was a strong predictor for semantic memory performance. In Sweden this pattern was reversed. In the Western world, chronological age is believed to be strongly associated with memory performance in cross-sectional studies, particularly in people greater than 60 years of age. This study indicates that the difference between the two countries (in relative importance of the predictors included in this study) is mainly due to the fact that years of education is connected to age in the Western world but to sex in Bangladesh. It remains to be examined whether earlier selective survival is also responsible for the relative absence of cognitive age differences in Bangladesh.

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