Vegard Skirbekk

About Vegard Skirbekk

Dr. Vegard Skirbekk investigates trends in the age and gender distribution of human capital, skills and work performance focusing on life cycle and cohort changes; and how to improve senior workers' skills and capacities. He also studies the impact of generational and life cycle variation on religion, societal values and belief structures, considering cohort and life cycle changes, migration, fertility differences and taking into account intrafamilial transmissions. Another key research interest is the determinants of childbearing in a low fertility Asian and European context. In 2005 he was awarded his PhD at the University of Rostock, Germany.

Alcohol, Substance Abuse and Crime Linked to Higher Mortality

My colleague, Torbjorn Skardhamar, and I recently carried out a study on the relationship between alcohol- and drug-related criminality on the one hand, and mortality on the other. We found that people with drug-related criminal records in Norway have a mortality rate that can be up to 15-16 times higher than people with no criminal record. We also found that people with a police record of driving under the influence of alcohol have significantly shortened life-spans compared to the overall population.

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Cognitive Function as a Refined Indicator of Aging

Cognitive function may be a better indicator of the impact of aging on an economy than age-distribution, with chronological age imposing less of a social and economic burden if the population is “functionally” younger. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Skirbekk, Loichinger, Weber, 2012), finds that one standardised indicator of cognitive ability – memory recall – is better in countries where education, nutrition, and health standards are generally higher. Aging populations are of concern to many countries as it is often assumed that ageing necessarily implies a greater cost to society in terms of aged care, age related disease, and reduced capacity to contribute to society.

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