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Brussels, 28 April 2005

Europe’s elderly – How are they?

The first detailed results of a European survey of health, ageing and retirement in Europe (SHARE) are being presented today in Brussels. The EU’s Research Framework Programme awarded €2.9 million over three years to the SHARE research project which collected data on life circumstances of around 22 000 European citizens aged 50 and over in 11 countries, ranging from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean. Among the surprising results: Northern Europeans are healthier and wealthier but people in the South of Europe live longer. However, the main purpose of the survey was to give reliable data to researchers and policy makers in the field of public health, economics and social sciences. Europe has the highest proportion of older citizens of any continent worldwide and the average age of Europeans will continue to increase for many more years.

“SHARE clearly shows how results from EU funded research projects can help to make sound policy decisions.” says European Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potočnik. “Social security systems and governments need to know how their populations will develop to adapt social and economic policies accordingly. In making the demographic data of their survey freely available to other researchers, the SHARE study provides a valuable contribution to the European Research Area”.

SHARE began in 2002 and was coordinated by the Research Institute for the Economics of Ageing of the University of Mannheim in Germany. Twenty three partners from 10 EU countries and Switzerland were involved in the longitudinal survey of health, ageing and retirement in 11 European countries. They represent a balance of the various regions in Europe, ranging from Scandinavia (Denmark and Sweden) through Central Europe (Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands) to the Mediterranean (Spain, Italy and Greece). Further data are currently being collected in Israel.

Data include health variables (e.g. self-reported health, physical functioning, cognitive functioning, health behaviour, use of health care facilities), psychological variables (e.g. psychological health, well-being, life satisfaction), economic variables (e.g. 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).

A short summary with key findings on health, employment, family and social networks and the economic status is also available in three languages:

The full report of 372 pages and the complete SHARE data as well as a list of partners who carried out the survey is available on the project’s web site:

The project coordinator will present “First results form SHARE – release of the data to the scientific community” today in Brussels (media welcome 17h00, Baden-Württemberg House, rue Belliard 60-62).

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