SHARE is an ESFRI infrastructure which provides information about health, ageing and retirement in Europe.
The survey was first conducted in 2004 with the participation of 11 countries. The survey is conducted every two years, and the number of participating states increases every time. In the seventh stage of the SHARE survey (Wave 7), the first-time data collection had been performed in eight more countries, including Latvia. SHARE is an international study which is simultaneously conducted in 27 European countries and Israel. Second data collection in Latvia (Wave 8) will be conducted in 2019-2020.
The SHARE project is a study within which information on health, economic, demographic and psychological aspects is gathered through interviews of citizens over the age of 50 years. SHARE is a longitudinal study; it means that the respondents are repeatedly interviewed every two years, which enables comparison of the dynamics of their life situation.
The SHARE project is funded by the European Commission, the American National Institute on Aging and the countries participating in the project. The involvement in the project for new SHARE member states, including Latvia, is funded by the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission.
The findings of the study provide researchers with a wider insight into how ageing influences individuals and their families. The study enables comparison of the obtained data on an international scale and contributes to the development of effective measures that will assist with the solving of issues related to ageing more successfully.
The trends of population dynamics in the countries covered by the study
The SHARE survey development process began in 2002 when the original English version of the survey was created based on the US Health and Retirement Study and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. The original text of the survey questionnaire is in English, but each country participating in the project translates the questionnaire according to its national context in cooperation with the international study coordinators.
About 380,000 interviews with more than 140,000 participants were conducted in earlier stages of the SHARE study. The summarised data from the first to the seven stage are available for public use. Three further stages of research are planned to be carried out by 2024.
The SHARE survey is divided into several sections covering different aspects of the respondent's life. The survey includes questions related to demography, children, employment, health and healthcare, the household, place of residence and living conditions, income, and other activities.
The main data collection in the survey refers to the following topics:
- economic indicators – current occupation, job description, education, consumption;
- health indicators – health habits, health self-assessment, diagnosed health issues, physical health, health care;
- biomarkers – grip strength, body mass index (BMI);
- psychological indicators – mental health, well-being and life satisfaction;
- demographic indicators – family status, children, education, place of residence;
- social support indicators – social networks, volunteers’ activities, help within the family.
Implementation of the project is coordinated at the European level by Axel Börsch-Supan, the Munich Center for the Economics of Aging, Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in Germany. The countries involved form a team that coordinates the project at the national level. The SHARE project in Latvia is conducted by Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU), the Institute of Public Health and the Institute of Sociological Research (SPI).
Data from the SHARE studies are currently used by more than 10,000 researchers worldwide, and each subsequent stage of the study provides new insights, as ageing should be studied over a long period of time. The data obtained in the SHARE study are available free of charge for registered researchers. Data can be used for scientific purposes without any restrictions.
- You should log in to the SHARE study data centre website after receipt of confirmation by entering your username and password. You can use the obtained username and password to access all data published on the SHARE website
The results of the survey may be used in science and politics to help find solutions to issues related to social security and healthcare. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic has used the data obtained in the SHARE study to prepare a law on long-term care by analysing the data associated with early retirement and employment among people over the age of 50. In France, the information obtained in the study was used to establish the proportion of citizens having functional restrictions and requiring accommodation with special adaptation.
At the international level, the data obtained in the SHARE project are used by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Health Organisation and the World Bank. For instance, the World Bank has used the collected data to identify migration flows between Germany and Turkey, and between France and Morocco.
In the European Union, several commissions use the data obtained in SHARE surveys in their studies, e. g.:
- researchers from the Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs use the data obtained in the SHARE survey to get additional information on long-term expenditures on retirement pensions and healthcare
- researchers in the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety use the data obtained in the SHARE survey to develop a set of health indicators. The set of indicators is developed using the indicators of demographic, social and economic situation, health condition and their determinant factors. SHARE data are also used to calculate healthy life expectancy
- The Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion uses the findings obtained in the SHARE study to prepare a report on employment and social growth in Europe
Since the first stage the data are publicly available, and more than 1,200 publications have been prepared; the number of publications which are prepared using the findings of the SHARE study is also increasing with the increase in data volume. Publications cover topics such as family, economics, health, sociology, employment, and retirement. Most publications are articles in scientific journals, books, book sections; the findings of the SHARE project are widely applied in academic works and politics studies.