A new study finds that cognitive functioning of women is affected by gender-role attitudes within their country.
The extent of gender equality in a country can affect women's cognitive health. Such is the conclusion of a new study that looked at how the cognitive functioning of women changed over time based on where they lived.
The lead author of the study, Eric Bonsang of University Paris-Dauphine and Columbia University, said this is the first attempt to shed light on the negative consequences that gender inequality has on women's health later in life.
“It [the study] shows that women living in gender-equal countries have better cognitive test scores later in life than women living in gender-unequal societies. Moreover, in countries that became more gender-equal over time, women’s cognitive performance improved relative to men’s,” said Bonsang.
Bonsang and his colleagues noticed that women in Northern European countries outperformed men on memory tests. The opposite effect could be observed in the counties of Southern Europe. There were other differences in cognitive scores as well that varied across the continent.
This led the researchers to wonder what would cause such variations. There were economic and socioeconomic factors to consider. The scientists also hypothesized that women living in societies with more traditional gender roles would have less access to education and work and as such would show lower cognitive performance as they got older.
They analyzed the cognitive performance data of participants aged between 50 and 93, drawn from international surveys on health and aging that represented people in 27 countries.
The surveys included episodic memory tasks to measure cognitive performance. To understand a participant’s attitude towards gender roles, the researchers looked at the self-reported agreement with the statement, ““When jobs are scarce, men should have more right to a job than women.”
The results showed a great worldwide variation in gender differences related to cognitive performance. Women had the highest advantage in cognitive performance in Sweden, while the men outperformed women the most in Ghana.
Women in countries that feature less traditional attitudes towards gender roles had better cognitive performance later in life.
“These findings reinforce the need for policies aiming at reducing gender inequalities as we show that consequences go beyond the labor market and income inequalities,” said Bonsang. “It also shows how important it is to consider seemingly intangible influences, such as cultural attitudes and values, when trying to understand cognitive aging.”
For their future work, the scientists aim to look in greater specificity at how gender role attitudes impact institutes, politics and the labor market.
The study was published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Read it here.
Surveys reveal the least religious, most atheistic population centers in the world.
Whether you fervently believe in a deity or flat our reject any religious teachings, opting for an atheist mindset, chances are you would rather be surrounded by like-minded people. Outside of the extreme religious control exercised by ISIS or the state-mandated atheism of countries like North Korea, most places are somewhere in between on the religiosity scale. But if you wanted to know what is the most "godless" place you can live, where would you go?
This place is most likely a city, at least according to how some scientists have described atheists.
“Those with no religious affiliation have been found to be younger, mostly male, with higher levels of education and income, more liberal, but also more unhappy and more alienated from wider society,” said Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, professor of psychology at the University of Haifa, about atheists in a psychological profile.
To biopsychologist and author Nigel Barber, these people are more likely to be in a major population center, and not a rural area, because cities tend to be more prosperous, and as such their inhabitants will feel less need for religion. In fact, he thinks that by 2038 most countries will have less than 50% of their populace thinking that religion is important to them, crossing what he calls “the atheist threshold”.
What are some places that have already passed this point?
In a WIN/GALLUP survey from 2015, China was declared the world's least religious country, with twice the amount of “convinced atheists” (at 61%) than any other country. Following it was Japan at 31% and the Czech Republic at 30%. In general, Western Europe was the least religious area according to the survey, with 51% of the population either not religious or decidedly atheist. Scandinavia, in particular, often leads the way in such polls, as Sweden, Denmark and Norway have large populations of non-believers.
What about specific cities?
Berlin has been called the “atheist capital of Europe” since 60% of Berliners do not associate with any religion.
As far as the U.K. is concerned, according to a 2011 Census, Norwich had the most people (42.5%) marking “no religion”. This is compared with 25.1% for the whole of England and Wales.
In the U.S., the American Bible Society’s rankings for 2016 point to Albany/Schenectady/Troy area in New York State as being the least “Bible-minded,” which means only 10% of the respondents there read the Bible in the last week and lead their lives accordingly. Boston was the least Bible-minded city in the survey, with just 11% of its population having the book as a part of their lives.
The most Bible-friendly city? Chattanooga, Tennessee. Not surprisingly, the South leads the U.S in religiosity, with cities in Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia and Louisiana topping the chart.
In a separate survey, the 2016 Public Religion Research Institute identified Portland, Seattle and San Francisco as the least religious cities in America, with 37% of the people there practicing no religion. Boston was number 8 in their findings.
So what is the least religious city in the world? While the numbers could surely vary based on how you define religiosity, the largest city in China, the least religious country in the world, would likely be the most atheist population center in the world. And that would be Shanghai, a city of 24 million people of whom 86.9% say they are not affiliated with any religion. That could amount to about 21 million atheists.
Cover photo: A man flies kite at The Bund on December 5, 2013 in Shanghai, China. Heavy smog hit northern and eastern parts of China, disturbing the traffic, worsening air pollution and forcing the closure of schools. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
A new site offers a way to delete most of your Internet accounts in one go.
The internet is an invaluable aid in most aspects of our life. It helps us communicate with friends and meet new people, it’s indispensable in shopping, traveling, staying healthy, gaming, advancing science, researching for school or just for fun, and has a myriad other uses. But for everything the internet has given us, there are often days when many have enough of it. The overload of information, the endless pictures on social media, the hackers, the trolls, the political discussions - it’s all just too much. But what to do? Now a Swedish site offers a way to delete yourself from the Internet with just a few clicks.
Deseat.me, from developers Wille Dahlbo and Linus Unnebäck, works by scanning popular apps and services where you might have an account, then offers you a list with easy delete or unsubscribe links.
One potential catch - the site asks you to log in using your Google account. It’s not clear how it will then help you get rid of this account as well. The developers utilize Google’s OAuth protocol and maintain that they safeguard each user’s privacy by making sure the process takes place on the user’s computer, not on their servers. They don’t get access to your login info.
"So basically the only thing you're telling us is what accounts you want to delete. That's it,” said the programmers on their site.
While it already works with most major sites like Facebook, the developers are working on adding more accounts. A way to log in with a non-Google email would also be welcome.
Cover photo by TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images.