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The effect of sample attrition on cross-sectional estimates of health in SHARE and SILC surveys

Magdalena Muszynska-Spielauer, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, OeAW, Univ. Vienna)
Martin Spielauer, Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO)

The Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) and the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) are the most commonly used sources of cross-sectional information on the health status of Europeans. The samples in both surveys are predominantly longitudinal and hence biased by panel attrition. This paper investigates to what extent attrition affect cross-sectional estimates of health based on the two surveys. Health status is measured based on chronic morbidity, the Global Activity Limitations Indicator, and self-perceived health. The rotational sample design in SILC allows assessing the bias caused by attrition by directly comparing the distribution of health and the resulting health expectancy (HE) between the longitudinal and the new rotational samples. In SHARE, to assess the bias caused by sample attrition, we use an analytic approach: under different scenarios concerning the health and mortality of those attrited, we simulate their health status at each consecutive wave and assess the effect of different assumptions on the cross-sectional distribution of health and the resulting estimates of HE. Our analyses confirm that attrition biases the health distribution of cross-sectional samples. Both the source and the effect of attrition on the observed health outcomes differ across European countries.

Keywords: Health and morbidity, Harmonized data sets, Simulation

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  Presented in Session 83. Data and Methods: A Medley of Perspectives