Over the Hill at 24: Persistent Age-Related Cognitive-Motor Decline in Reaction Times in an Ecologically Valid Video Game Task Begins in Early Adulthood
Typically studies of the effects of aging on cognitive-motor performance emphasize changes in elderly populations. Although some research is directly concerned with when age-related decline actually begins, studies are often based on relatively simple reaction time tasks, making it impossible to gauge the impact of experience in compensating for this decline in a real world task. The present study investigates age-related changes in cognitive motor performance through adolescence and adulthood in a complex real world task, the real-time strategy video game StarCraft 2. In this paper we analyze the influence of age on performance using a dataset of 3,305 players, aged 16-44, collected by Thompson, Blair, Chen & Henrey . Using a piecewise regression analysis, we find that age-related slowing of within-game, self-initiated response times begins at 24 years of age. We find no evidence for the common belief expertise should attenuate domain-specific cognitive decline. Domain-specific response time declines appear to persist regardless of skill level. A second analysis of dual-task performance finds no evidence of a corresponding age-related decline. Finally, an exploratory analyses of other age-related differences suggests that older participants may have been compensating for a loss in response speed through the use of game mechanics that reduce cognitive load.
Characteristics of the Population With Consumer-Driven and High-Deductible Health Plans, 2005–2013; and Labor-force Participation Rates of the Population Ages 55 and Older, 2013
Characteristics of the Population With Consumer-Driven and High-Deductible Health Plans, 2005–2013; and Labor-force Participation Rates of the Population Ages 55 and Older, 2013 (PDF)
Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute
Characteristics of the Population With Consumer-Driven and High-Deductible Health Plans, 2005–2013
- The population of adults within consumer-driven (CDHPs), high-deductible (HDHP) and traditional health plans was split about 50–50 between men and women in 2013.
- The CDHP population was more likely than traditional-plan enrollees to be in households with $150,000 or more in income in every year except 2006, 2009 and 2010. They were also more likely to be in households with $100,000–$149,999 in income in most years.
- CDHP enrollees were roughly twice as likely as individuals with traditional coverage to have college or post-graduate educations in nearly all years of the survey.
- CDHP enrollees have consistently reported better health status than traditional-plan enrollees, exhibiting better health behavior than traditional-plan enrollees with respect to smoking and (except for 2010 and 2011), exercise, and sometimes obesity rates.
Labor-force Participation Rates of the Population Ages 55 and Older, 2013
- The labor-force participation rate for those ages 55 and older rose throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, when it began to level off but with a small increase following the 2007–2008 economic downturn.
- For those ages 55–64, the upward trend was driven almost exclusively by the increased labor-force participation of women, whereas the male participation rate was flat to declining. However, among those ages 65 or older, the rate increased for both males and females over that period.
- This upward trend in labor-force participation by older workers is likely related to workers’ current need for continued access to employment-based health insurance and for more years of earnings to accumulate savings in defined contribution (401(k)-type) plans and/or to pay down debt. Many Americans also want to work longer, especially those with more education for whom more meaningful jobs are available that can be performed into older ages.
- Younger workers’ labor-force participation rates increased when that of older workers declined or remained low during the late 1970s to the early 1990s. But as younger workers’ rates began to decline in the late 1990s, those for older workers continuously increased. Consequently, it appears either that older workers filled the void left by younger workers’ lower participation, or that higher older-worker participation limited the opportunities for younger workers or discouraged them from participating in the labor force.
Aimed at exploring the U.S. Boomers’ perceptions and behavior around physical health and fitness, this survey was conducted via telephone by AARP Research, on behalf of the AARP Bulletin, in January 2014, among a national representative sample of 760 Boomers (ages 49-67 years).
Key findings include:
- Over four-in-ten (43%) Boomers rate their physical health excellent or very good while three-in-ten (29%) rate it fair or poor.
- Two-thirds (67%) of Boomers say physical fitness exercise is a priority for them today.
- “It keeps me mobile, not dependent on others (48%), “I enjoy it/it’s fun” (30%), “I have always had this as a priority” (26%), “Doctor recommended it as a must” (26%), and “It makes me feel younger” (25%) are the top-five reasons why physical fitness exercise is a priority for them today.
- While asking the reasons to those who say physical fitness exercise is not a priority for them today, the highest proportion reported “I don’t have time” (30%), followed by “I am disabled/physically impaired” (22%), “I have chronic illness/I am sick” (21%), and “I have other more important priorities” (20%).
- About one-in-six (16%) Boomers are currently a member of a health, fitness, or exercise club. Use of personal fitness mobile apps is infrequent among Boomers – only 7% reported using them over the past five years.
Debt and Debt Management among Older Adults
Source: University of Michigan Retirement Research Center
Of particular interest in the present economic environment is whether access to credit is changing peoples’ indebtedness over time, particularly as they approach retirement. This project analyzes older individuals’ debt, debt management practices, and financial fragility using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the National Financial Capability Study (NFCS). Specifically, we examine three different cohorts(individuals age 56–61) in different time periods, 1992, 2002 and 2008, in the HRS to evaluate cross-cohort changes in debt over time. We also draw on recent data from the National Financial Capability Study (NFCS) which provides detailed information on how families manage their debt. Our goal is to assess how wealth and debt among older persons has evolved over time, along with the potential consequences for retirement security. We find that more recent cohorts have taken on more debt and face more financial insecurity, mostly due to having purchased more expensive homes with smaller down payments. In addition Boomers are more likely to have engaged in expensive borrowing practices. Protective factors include having higher income, more education, and greater financial literacy. Factors associated with financial fragility include having had more children and unexpected large income declines. Thus shocks do play a role in the accumulation of debt close to retirement, but it is not enough to have resources: people also need the capacity to manage those resources, if they are to stay out of debt as they head into retirement.
AARP Online Travel Study
Source: AARP Research
Those who are 50 or older take about six non-business related overnight trips of at least 50 miles from home per year.
Macroeconomic Determinants of Retirement Timing (PDF)
Source: University of Michigan Retirement Research Center
Ongoing aging of the US population makes labor force attachment of older workers a key question of policy interest. This paper analyzes the influence of macroeconomic factors, such as the unemployment rate, inflation rate and housing price level on retirement timing.
The impact of macroeconomic conditions on retirement timing is not unambiguous. On the one hand, adverse macroeconomic conditions can deplete household wealth. This may compel households to extend their working lives when their wealth unexpectedly declines. On the other hand, a weak labor market in a recession, for example, can induce early retirement if older workers become discouraged about future job prospects. Similarly, a high rate of inflation can adversely affect the purchasing power of household wealth, which should encourage continued labor force participation. However, inflation can also lead to erosion of real wages, thereby encouraging workers to retire earlier than they otherwise would. Variations in house prices create yet another wealth effect for households. Real estate prices may significantly affect retirement timing because housing wealth is a major part of financial portfolios of the US middle class.
Impacts of Aging Travelers on Airports
Source: Transportation Research Board
TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Synthesis 51: Impacts of Aging Travelers on Airports describes the challenges of wayfinding, fatigue, technology and equipment, and needed amenities, as well as the practices that airports are enacting to accommodate and improve the airport experience of aging travelers. The report is designed to help users better understand the aging demographic, and define issues and implement effective practices to accommodate aging travelers at airports.
Florida’s Economic Future & the Impact of Aging (PDF)
Source: Florida Legislature Office of Economic and Demographic Research
From Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (The Graying of the Sunshine State’s Labor Force):
Business contacts throughout the region have expressed, through the Atlanta Fed’s Regional Economic Information Network (REIN), a growing concern with an aging population and a shortage of qualified and interested younger candidates to fill positions vacated by retirees. A recent presentation spotlighted this trend in Florida. The report “Florida’s Economic Future & the Impact of Aging” by Florida’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) notes that “population growth is the state’s primary engine of economic growth, fueling both employment and income growth.” The presentation reports two main concerns for the state: one is an aging population and a shrinking pool of workers, and the other is a growing need for services, natural resources, and infrastructure as the state’s overall population increases.
Florida’s population has grown from 15.9 million in 2000 to 18.8 million in 2010, a nearly 18 percent increase, and it is forecast to grow to 23.6 million by 2030. The population growth adds concerns for not only current older Floridians but also for future older residents, who will help further the demographic trend of an aging population and a labor force whose growth is slowing.
America’s Long-Term Care Crisis: Challenges in Financing and Delivery
Source: Bipartisan Policy Center
An estimated 12 million Americans are currently in need of long-term services and supports (LTSS)—defined as institutional or home-based assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, or medication management—including both seniors and persons under age 65 living with physical or cognitive limitations. In the next two decades, the U.S. health care system will face a tidal wave of aging baby boomers. This, among many other factors, will create an unsustainable demand for LTSS in the coming years.
Fewer family caregivers, increasingly limited personal financial resources, and growing strains on federal, state, and family budgets will further complicate efforts to organize and finance services. Although there is tremendous variation in what is, or will be, needed, fully 70 percent of people who reach the age of 65 will require some form of LTSS at some point in their lives. The number of Americans needing LTSS at any one time is expected to more than double from 12 million today to 27 million by 2050. Indeed, the demand for LTSS will substantially outpace the rate of growth in the U.S. economy over the next decade and drive significant growth in Medicaid spending.
Boomers and Finances: An AARP Bulletin Survey
Source: AARP Research
With an interest in learning more about what American Boomers perceive about their financial performance and situation, on behalf of the AARP Bulletin, in November 2013, AARP Research conducted a short telephone survey among a nationally representative sample of 714 individuals age 49-67 years old.
Key findings include:
- Two-thirds (67%) of Boomers say they are doing at least somewhat well financially, with one-in-five (21%) doing extremely or very well and about half (46%) doing somewhat well.
- Regarding how well Boomers thought they would be doing financially at their age, the majority (56%) say they are doing either better than expected (20%) or about the same as expected (36%).
- About four-in-ten (39%) Boomers perceive they are doing better than their parents were doing financially, and over a quarter (26%) perceive they are doing the same as their parents were doing at the same age.
- Over four-in-ten (43%) Boomers expect their children will be doing better financially and about one-fifth (18%) of them expect their children will be doing about the same as they are doing today when their children reach the age they are today.
Membership of the 113th Congress: A Profile (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)
This report presents a profile of the membership of the 113th Congress (2013-2014). Statistical information is included on selected characteristics of Members, including data on party affiliation, average age, occupation, education, length of congressional service, religious affiliation, gender, ethnicity, foreign births, and military service.
2013-2014 Winter Heating Costs for Older and Low-Income Households
Source: AARP Research
Record breaking cold weather this heating season will leave many older American households facing higher heating costs than last year. While heating costs continue to be higher for households heating with fuel oil than those heating with natural gas or electricity, costs to heat with natural gas, electricity, and propane have risen for many households across the United States.
This report analyzes data from the 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Surveys and the February 2014 Short-Term Energy Outlook. It examines heating-related energy consumption and expenditures among consumers age 65 and older based on income, heating fuel used, and geographic location. Winter heating costs are likely to be a greater burden on older low-income households than on similarly aged higher-income households, even though low-income households tend to use less heating fuel than other groups. This report will be updated monthly through March 2014 as new data are released.
Young Americans’ Affinity for Democratic Party Has Grown; Majority have consistently aligned with Democratic Party since 2006
Young adults — those between the ages of 18 and 29 — have typically aligned themselves with the Democratic Party, but they have become substantially more likely to do so since 2006.
From 1993 to 2003, 47% of 18- to 29-year-olds, on average, identified as Democrats or said they were independents but leaned to the Democratic Party, while 42% were Republicans or Republican leaners. That time span included two years in which young adults tilted Republican, 1994 and 1995, when Republicans won control of Congress. Since 2006, the average gap in favor of the Democratic Party among young adults has been 18 percentage points, 54% to 36%.
This Democratic movement among the young has come at a time when senior citizens have become more Republican. The broader U.S. population has shown more variability in its party preferences in recent years, shifting Democratic from 2005 to 2008, moving back toward the Republican Party from 2009 to 2011, and showing modest Democratic preferences in the last two years.
Lessons from Abroad for the U.S. Entitlement Debate
Source: Center for Strategic & International Studies
The unsustainable federal budget outlook will inevitably push entitlement reform to the forefront of the national policy debate. As America’s leaders consider reform options, they will have much to learn from the experience of other developed countries, several of which have recently enacted far-reaching overhauls of their state pension systems that greatly reduce the long-term fiscal burden of their aging populations. Lessons from Abroad for the U.S. Entitlement Debate places America’s aging challenge in international perspective, examines the most promising reform initiatives in nine other developed countries, and draws practical lessons for U.S. policymakers.