nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2023‒03‒13
four papers chosen by

  1. Do Pension Benefits Accelerate Cognitive Decline? Evidence from Rural China By Plamen Nikolov; Md Shahadath Hossain
  2. Cognitive Misperception and Chronic Disease Awareness: Evidence from Blood Biomarker Data By Lin, Zhuoer; Fu, Mingqi; Chen, Xi
  3. Cognitive behavioral therapy among Ghana’s rural poor is effective regardless of baseline mental distress By Barker, Nathan; Bryan, Gharad; Karlan, Dean; Ofori-Atta, Angela L.; Udry, Christopher
  4. Socioemotional Skills in Early Childhood: Evidence from a Maternal Psychosocial Intervention By Sevim, Dilek; Baranov, Victoria; Bhalotra, Sonia R.; Maselko, Joanna; Biroli, Pietro

  1. By: Plamen Nikolov (State University of New York); Md Shahadath Hossain (State University of New York at Binghamton)
    Abstract: Economists have mainly focused on human capital accumulation, rather than on the causes and consequences of human capital depreciation in late adulthood. To investigate how human capital depreciates over the life cycle, we examine how a newly introduced pension program, the National Rural Pension Scheme, affects cognitive performance in rural China. We find significant adverse effects of access to pension benefits on cognitive functioning among the elderly. We detect the most substantial impact of the program on delayed recall, a cognition measure linked to the onset of dementia. In terms of mechanisms, we find that cognitive deterioration in late adulthood is mediated by a substantial reduction in social engagement, volunteering, and activities fostering mental acuity.
    Keywords: life cycle, human capital, cognitive functioning, cognition, middle-income countries, LMICs, developing countries
    JEL: J24 H55 O15
    Date: 2023–02
  2. By: Lin, Zhuoer (Yale University); Fu, Mingqi (Wuhan University); Chen, Xi (Yale University)
    Abstract: Cognitive misperception contributed to poor decision-making; yet their impact on health-related decisions is less known. We examined how self-perceived memory was associated with chronic disease awareness among older Chinese adults. Data were obtained from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study. Nationally representative blood biomarkers identify participants' dyslipidemia and diabetes status. Among participants with biomarker identified dyslipidemia or diabetes, disease awareness was defined as self-reported diagnosis of the conditions. The proportions of disease awareness were lower for individuals with better self-perceived memory and those with more impaired cognitive ability, showing opposite patterns. Controlling for cognitive ability and covariates, self-perceived memory was negatively associated with the dyslipidemia and diabetes awareness. In particular, older adults with the highest level of self-perceived memory had significantly lower disease awareness as compared to those with the lowest level of self-perceived memory. Our findings were robust to alternative cognitive measures and were stronger for less educated rural residents or those living without children. Cognitive misperception poses great challenges to chronic disease management. Targeted interventions and supports are needed, particularly for the disadvantaged.
    Keywords: cognitive impairment, self-perceived memory, chronic disease awareness, dyslipidemia, diabetes
    JEL: I12 J14 D91 I18
    Date: 2023–02
  3. By: Barker, Nathan; Bryan, Gharad; Karlan, Dean; Ofori-Atta, Angela L.; Udry, Christopher
    Abstract: We study the impact of group-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for individuals selected from the general population of poor households in rural Ghana (N = 7, 227). Results from one to three months after the program show strong impacts on mental and perceived physical health, cognitive and socioemotional skills, and economic self-perceptions. These effects hold regardless of baseline mental distress. We argue that this is because CBT can improve well-being for a general population of poor individuals through two pathways: reducing vulnerability to deteriorating mental health and directly increasing cognitive capacity and socioemotional skills.
    Keywords: mental health; poverty; cognitive behavioral therapy; scarcity
    JEL: D12 I12 I31 I32 O12 O18
    Date: 2022–12–01
  4. By: Sevim, Dilek (University of Basel); Baranov, Victoria (University of Melbourne); Bhalotra, Sonia R. (University of Warwick); Maselko, Joanna (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill); Biroli, Pietro (University of Bologna)
    Abstract: We study the formation of social and emotional skills in the first three years of life, and investigate the impact of a cluster-randomized peer-led psychosocial intervention targeting perinatally depressed mothers in rural Pakistan. The intervention significantly improved maternal mental health, especially among mothers of boys. It resulted in imprecisely estimated increases in parental investment, without any discernible impacts on the child's socioemotional skills or on indicators of their development in the cognitive and physical health domains. A descriptive analysis of mechanisms reveals that the intervention modified the production function of children's skills, by lowering the productivity of maternal mental health in the first 12 months of life. It moved outcomes for depressed women closer to outcomes for women not depressed during pregnancy.
    Keywords: mental health, stress, socioemotional, RCT, child development, technology of skill formation, gender
    JEL: D1 I1 J1 O2
    Date: 2023–02

General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.