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Study Introduction: Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE)

Written by: Hunter Green

Published on: Sep 29, 2022

#SHARE #Study-Introduction

The Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) is a cross-national panel study of people aged 50 years and over and their partners living in more than 25 European countries and Israel. To facilitate cross-study comparisons, SHARE was modeled after the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) in the United States and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) in England.

The initial SHARE sample, recruited in 2004, included older adults living in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. The sampling method varied by country but most used a stratified, multistage sample of registered telephone numbers or individuals listed in a population register. Follow-up waves have been conducted in 2006 and then roughly biennially with interviews starting in 2010, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019. Many countries have also received at least one refreshment sample at a follow-up wave. Since its baseline wave, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia have also joined SHARE.

The survey elicits a wide variety of information from respondents, including demographics, health, cognition, health care use and costs, employment status, income and assets, housing, and expectations. In addition, SHARE routinely collects non-blood biomarkers such as grip strength, walking speed, and lung function measurements. Starting at wave 2, SHARE has conducted end of life interviews with proxies of deceased respondents to obtain information about the respondent’s last year of life. A life history interview was conducted once for respondents at wave 3 or 7, where they provided details on their entire life, starting with childhood. Also, SHARE conducted two rounds of COVID-19 interviews in 2020 and 2021 to understand the unintended consequences of the health, economic, and social policies enacted to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the wealth of information collected by SHARE, researchers who are new to the survey may find it challenging to navigate at first. To make the data easier to use and encourage cross-national research, the Gateway to Global Aging Data has released harmonized datasets for the Core, End of Life, and Life History interviews. While these datasets do not include all of the information collected by SHARE, they contain some of the most commonly used and comparable variables across waves and studies, helping jump-start your analysis. The Gateway updates these datasets as new waves are released and is also working on creating a harmonized version of the COVID-19 data.

To use the Harmonized SHARE datasets, you will first need to download the survey data from the SHARE website. Next, you will need to download the Stata creation code for the respective dataset from the Get Data under the Harmonized Data tab. Finally, you will need to modify and run the creation code within Stata. While Stata is required once to create the Harmonized SHARE datasets, you can use various methods to convert that Stata file into SAS, SPSS, or another format if you prefer to use another program for your analyses. While this may sound a little daunting, we do our best to make the process as easy as possible, giving instructions on where to put the SHARE survey data and what lines of the creation code to edit. In addition, we are always available to answer questions at our email help desk.

We also recently hosted a webinar where we discussed the study design of SHARE and the resources available on our website. We also provided an example of a cross-section analysis using the Harmonized SHARE. A recording of the session and the presentation slides can be found here.

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