Longitudinal surveys aim to correctly represent the population of interest over time. In this respect, panel attrition, i.e. the systematic dropout of sample members, is a major challenge for maintaining long-running panel surveys. A second problem might arise when some sample members die during the life of the panel. This holds in particular for panel surveys like SHARE that consider (mainly) older people, because here the overall mortality rate is higher than in studies including all age groups. Distinguishing between mortality and other forms of attrition hence is crucial, as the death of respondents in a longitudinal survey is a natural process that needs to be considered in order to maintain representativeness of the panel sample. If mortality is not taken into account properly, attrition analyses might overestimate the effect of systematic dropouts for variables that are highly correlated with mortality, such as age or health of the respondents. Therefore, lacking information on the reason why a former respondent cannot be contacted anymore and thus on the vital status is a huge problem in many longitudinal studies that further increases from wave to wave. Against this background, this project wants to shed light on the extent of missing death reports and presents possible solutions to deal with unknown vital status in SHARE, by using both external information from mortality registers and internal information on the respondents’ characteristics to determine which people are more likely to die.
SHARE - Research
Possibilities to deal with unknown vital status in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE)