Adrijana Košćec Bjelajac, Jasminka Bobić, Jelena Kovačić, Veda Marija Varnai, Jelena Macan and Šime Smolić
The aim of this study was to examine mental health and cognitive functions in older Croatian workers (50–65 years) taking into account their employment status, self-assessed health, and a set of demographic characteristics. We analysed the data collected on 650 older workers (71 % employed) in the Wave 6 of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). Unemployed workers reported symptoms of loneliness more often than the employed, while in rural areas unemployment was additionally associated with more pronounced symptoms of depression. Feeling of loneliness was also higher in those living without a partner in the household and in those with poorer health. In urban residents symptoms of depression were more severe in women, respondents with higher education, those living without a partner, and those who rated their health as poorer. As for cognitive functions, unemployment significantly predicted poorer subtraction in the rural subsample. Women in general showed less efficient numerical abilities. In the urban subsample poorer numerical abilities were also associated with lower education and living without a partner in the household. Better verbal recall was predicted by higher education and better self-rated memory. Higher scores in verbal fluency were predicted by urban residency and better self-rated health. Our results indicate that the protective factors for good mental health and cognitive functioning in older Croatian workers are being employed, having more education, living with a partner in the household, and being healthier. These findings stress the importance of implementing broader social policy strategies covering employment, education, and health.