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Last Update: 2011-08-29   Source: Research Infrastructures
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SHARE: a major multi-national research databank
on population ageing in Europe

SHARE provides open and free of charge access to data, and aims to help researchers understand the impact of population ageing on European societies and thus to help policy makers make decisions on health, social and economic policy. SHARE helps policymakers to understand for example: the implications of ageing for public finances, the labour market, income distribution and family life. The analysis of SHARE data will help European countries to more effectively prepare for the continuing challenges to their welfare systems in an ageing society.

What has the project achieved?

SHARE was launched in 2004 and is building a multidisciplinary and cross-national data set on the health, socio-economic status, and social and family networks of more than 45,000 individuals aged 50 and over.

SHARE has been developed in close collaboration with the US Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) as well as the English Longitudinal study of Ageing (ELSA). Similar data are currently being collected in the Korean Longitudinal Study of Ageing and there are now plans for comparable surveys in Japan, China and India.

Why does this matter?

Ageing is one of the most challenging megatrends of the 21st century. As pointed out by the European Council in 2000, turning this challenge into opportunities requires a systematic data base for empirical research on population ageing in Europe. Preparing for an ageing society is now a vital part of the European policy agenda. Understanding the impact of population ageing on our societies and in particular on European welfare states benefits from a cross-national comparative analysis.

SHARE in the ESFRI Roadmap

SHARE was designated by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures as a priority research infrastructure for social sciences and included in the ESFRI Roadmap in 2006. Linked to this process, the European Commission has funded the Preparatory Phase of the SHARE upgrade in 2007. This major upgrade will add seven further SHARE biennial waves, which will follow individuals as they age and react to the changes in their social and economic environment.

What is the European Added Value?

By making a considerable investment in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), the European Union Framework Programmes have started to build an unprecedented pan-European data set that can measure comparable data at regular intervals and that can identify and measure trends and assess the effects of policy changes. SHARE is expected to become an important asset to other initiatives on population ageing such as the pilot European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, currently being launched.

Who is involved?

SHARE was set up under the 5th Framework Programme for Research in the context of the key action on Population Ageing. Eleven countries were involved in the first SHARE wave of data collection. The Sixth Framework Programme funded the second and the third SHARE data collections. Twenty-one countries are participating in the fourth SHARE wave, which is currently underway.

Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany and the Netherlands are the founding members of SHARE-ERIC. Denmark, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal are expected to join soon, with Switzerland to have observer status. Ten other countries are participating in SHARE: Greece, Sweden, United Kingdom, Poland, Ireland, Estonia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Slovenia and Israel.


The European Commission awarded new EU legal status to SHARE on 17th March 2011. Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany and the Netherlands, with Switzerland as an observer, are the founding members of the new European Research Infrastructure Consortium SHARE-ERIC.

Fifteen other participating countries to the SHARE project may sign up later to this new legal status that provides many of the administrative advantages and tax exemptions enjoyed by major international organisations, with much simpler procedures.

SHARE is the first ever research infrastructure project being awarded as ERIC. SHARE-ERIC certainly adds a better and long-term perspective to the development of the SHARE data infrastructure. SHARE-ERIC is hosted by Tilburg University in the Netherlands.

How much money has been funded by the EU?

About 80% of SHARE funding was provided by the EU (almost €30 million overall) and about €5 million has been obtained from the US National Institute on Aging and national grants.

For more information

SHARE website

Coordinator: Professor Axel Borsch Supan, Director of Max-Planck-Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.

ESFRI Roadmap