Population ageing is the largest demographic change of the European continent. Understanding the ageing process is thus an important task for researchers in economics, social sciences, and public health. But scientific knowledge has also become necessary to tackle upcoming challenges such as older Europeans' employment, retirement schemes and pensions or long-term care.
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 45,000 individuals aged 50 or over. As such, it responds to a Communication by the European Commission calling to "examine the possibility of establishing, in co-operation with Member States, a European Longitudinal Ageing Survey". The project is coordinated centrally at the Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging (MEA) .
SHARE is conducted every two years. Eleven countries contributed data to the 2004 SHARE baseline study (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland). Further data were collected in wave 2 (2006-2007) in 15 countries (+ the Czech Republic, Ireland, Israel and Poland). The survey's third wave of data collection, SHARELIFE, collects detailed retrospective life-histories in 16 countries in 2008-09 (+ Slovenia). The 4th wave (2010-2011) will interview 60 000 individuals in 20 countries (+ Estonia, Hungary, Luxembourg and Portugal).
Data collected include health variables (e.g. self-reported health, health conditions, physical and cognitive functioning, health behaviour, use of health care facilities), bio-markers (e.g. grip strength, peak flow), psychological variables (e.g. psychological 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, social networks, volunteer activities).
The data of the first 3 waves, the questionnaire as well as additional information on collection methods can be found on the official project site www.share-project.org .