Can We Trust Older People’s Statements on their Childhood Circumstances? Evidence from SHARELIFE

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Authors Mazzonna F.
Type Journal Article
Year 2015
Language English
Abstract This study provides evidence about the quality of retrospective assessments of individuals aged 50 regarding their childhood histories in 3rd wave of the Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). Early life events are important to social scientists in predicting individuals’ outcomes in adulthood. Nevertheless, there is wide skepticism about the ability of old age respondents to recall with good accuracy events which happened decades ago. We assess the internal and external consistency of some measures of childhood health and socio-economic status and find that overall respondents seem to remember well their health status and living conditions between ages 0-15. Thanks to the cross-country dimension of SHARE (13 European countries), we are able to compare individual responses with aggregate data (e.g. GDP per capita) at country level. The results we find should mitigate doubts on retrospective data collection and promote their use for research purposes.
Journal European Journal of Population
Volume 31
Number 3
Month August
Start page number 237
End page number 257
Keywords retrospective, childhood, health, SHARE, methods


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