Luckily, we are all living longer, and the societies we live in need to adjust accordingly: In the 21st century, age is becoming one of our grand challenges, both individually and structurally.

EU politicians realised all that about 20 years ago, seeing the average age of Europeans rise, due to improved health together with declining birth rates. They also realised they did not have enough knowledge about the effects of this development. Would the pension systems of the EU member states collapse under the stress of an ageing population? How would it affect the family structures in different countries, and should geriatric care be organised in new ways?

To help researchers understand the impact of population ageing on European societies and to help policy makers make decisions on health, social and economic policy, the EU funded The Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). Launched in 2004, it is the largest pan-European social science panel study, and it has become a role model for many ageing surveys worldwide.

Read about some of the interesting results hosted in the SHARE database and how national and regional research and education networks are playing a role, in the newest In The Field blog post.