Internet use and cognition among middle-aged and older adults in China: A cross-lagged panel analysis

Dandan Yu*, Denzil G. Fiebig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The present study examines the reciprocal relationship between Internet use and cognitive function over time among middle-aged and older populations in China. We use data from the first three waves of the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS), where participants provided information on Internet use and cognitive function measures at the baseline in 2011 as well as two follow-ups in 2013 and 2015. Cross-lagged panel models were fitted to test the reciprocal association over these four years. Middle-aged and older individuals with higher cognitive function were more likely to be regular Internet users. After controlling for the effects of cognition two years prior, Internet users tended to score higher on cognitive tests than non-users. These findings survived across alternative subsamples and model specifications. Our results suggest that cognitive decline in later life may explain the lower technology adoption rate among older individuals. Meanwhile, Internet use could serve as a protective factor against cognitive decline in mid-life and older adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100262
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Economics of Ageing
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • Cognitive function
  • Cross-lagged panel
  • Internet use


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