The Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE)

The Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) is a multidisciplinary and cross-national panel database of micro data on health, socio-economic status and social and family networks of more than 86,000 individuals aged 50 or over (approximately 220,000 interviews) from 19 European countries plus Israel. SHARE is unique in that it is not only multidisciplinary, but also multinational. SHARE's main aim is to provide data on individuals as they age in order to analyze the process of individual and population ageing in depth.  

Covering the key areas of life, namely health, socio-economics and social networks, SHARE includes a great variety of information: health variables (e.g. self-reported health, health conditions, physical and cognitive functioning, health behavior, use of health care facilities), biomarkers (see below), psychological variables (e.g. mental health, well-being, life satisfaction), economic variables (current work activity, job characteristics, opportunities to work past retirement age, sources and composition of current income, wealth and consumption, housing, education), and social support variables (e.g. assistance within families, transfers of income and assets, volunteer activities) as well as social network information (e.g. contacts, proximity, satisfaction with network). SHARE is harmonized with the U.S. Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).

Country Wave Field Time Overview

Data Collection
The target population for inference from SHARE is the European population aged 50+. To achieve representation of this population, SHARE employs a sample design which involves baseline samples of the household population aged 50+ at a particular point in time in each country, supplemented by regular refreshment samples of the sub-population of people, who have turned 50 since the original baseline sample was selected. Waves of data collection take place every two years.

From the first wave (2004) on, SHARE combined self-reported health with two physical performance measurements: grip strength and walking speed. Additionally, respondents reported their height and weight. In the subsequent waves further biomarkers where included, like peak-flow (measuring lung strength) and chair stand (measuring lower body performance); for an overview see attached table. 

In wave four (2010), Germany served as a pilot country for the inclusion of innovative biomarkers for a future full-scale implementation in SHARE. The new measures included were dried blood spot samples (DBSS), measured height (in addition to self-reported height), waist circumference, and blood pressure. In the wave 5 the collection of DBSS was included in the pretest in 6 European countries, to test the logistics and national ethical issues for an implementation in all SHARE countries in wave 6. 

The major goal of the DBSS collection is to gather objective blood values. The blood spots were analyzed for C-reactive protein (CRP), HbA1c and total cholesterol. In the future, we will include vitamin D and, as the case may be, further inflammatory markers of the cytokine family like IL-6, BDNF, and TNF-?.


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