Heath and Aging

Why Population Aging Matters: A Global Perspective

Endnote: Data for an Aging World

Ten years ago at the Summit of the Eight in Denver, Colorado, the Group of Eight (G8) leaders recognized the importance of population aging. The Denver Communique encouraged nations to collaborate in biomedical and behavioral research and to learn from one another how policies and programs can help strengthen pension, health, and long-term care systems. With support from the U.S. National Institute on Aging, three important cross-national efforts have emerged to provide policymakers with information essential for understanding the complexities of our aging world.

The Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) is an interdisciplinary longitudinal data set covering people age 50 and over. Modeled after the U.S. Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing, SHARE allows comparison of the effects of different pension and health care systems on the lives of middle-aged and older Europeans. Already underway in 15 European countries, SHARE is designed to cover all 27 members of the European Union, plus Israel and Switzerland, in 2008.

The International Network for the Demographic Evaluation of Populations and Their Health (INDEPTH) comprises 37 sites in Africa, Asia, and Latin America that monitor populations living in distinct geographic areas. Combining demographic surveillance with innovative techniques, INDEPTH sites provide mortality data otherwise lacking for the less developed world, especially with regard to adult populations. The longitudinal nature of these data is essential to understanding emerging patterns of adult mortality and noncommunicable diseases and will help shape chronic disease prevention and control programs.

Launched by the World Health Organization, the Study of Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE) is a longitudinal study in six countries: China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Russia, and South Africa. SAGE follows groups of individuals age 50 and over for 10 to 15 years to examine changes in their health and well-being and determine predictors of change, such as economic activity, life transitions, and social cohesion. SAGE will be linked to data from INDEPTH sites in Asia and Africa to enhance the breadth and analytic potential of both data sets.

Publication Date: September 2011
Page Last Updated: September 16, 2011