Study Description

Research on Early Life and Aging Trends and Effects (RELATE)

Study Title: Research on Early Life and Aging Trends and Effects (RELATE), 1996-2008.

Principal Investigator: Mary McEniry

DISC Study Number: QM-512-001-1-2-International-DISC-1996

Abstract: The Research on Early Life and Aging Trends and Effects (RELATE) study compiles cross national data that contain information that can be used to examine the effects of early life conditions on older adult health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, functionality, mortality, and self-reported health. The complete cross sectional/longitudinal dataset (n=147,278) was compiled from major studies of older adults or households across the world that in most instances are representative of the older adult population either nationally, in major urban centers, or in provinces. It includes over 180 variables with information on demographic and geographic variables along with information about early life conditions and life course events for older adults in low, middle and high income countries. Selected variables were harmonized to facilitate cross national comparisons.

In this first public release of the RELATE data, a subset of the data (n=88,273) is being released. The subset includes harmonized data of older adults from the following regions of the world: Africa (Ghana and South Africa), Asia (China, India), Latin America (Costa Rica, major cities in Latin America), and the United States (Puerto Rico, Wisconsin). This first release of the data collection is composed of 19 downloadable parts: Part 1 includes the harmonized cross-national RELATE dataset, which harmonizes data from parts 2 through 19. Specifically, parts 2 through 19 include data from Costa Rica (Part 2), Puerto Rico (Part 3), the United States (Wisconsin) (Part 4), Argentina (Part 5), Barbados (Part 6), Brazil (Part 7), Chile (Part 8), Cuba (Part 9), Mexico (Parts 10 and 15), Uruguay (Part 11), China (Parts 12, 18, and 19), Ghana (Part 13), India (Part 14), Russia (Part 16), and South Africa (Part 17).

NOTE: Bangladesh (Matlab Health and Socioeconomic Survey/MHSS), England (English Longitudinal Study of Ageing/ELSA), Indonesia Family Life Survey (IFLS), Mexican Health and Aging Study (MHAS), Netherlands (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe/SHARE), Taiwan (Social Environment and Biomarkers of Aging Study/SEBAS) and United States (The Health and Retirement Study/HRS) data are not included in this June 2013 release of RELATE cross-nations file.

However, the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) (n=12,527) is part of the RELATE data and can be obtained at the HRS data products page. Click on the "Access to Public Data" link. You need to be a registered user to download the HRS RELATE data file. Registration is free and fairly easy. When you log in to the HRS data download system, click on the "Data Downloads" link on the bottom of the login screen. Then look for RELATE files in the "Research Contributions" area (upper right corner of the data downloads screen). HRS RELATE data file is in Stata format. A codebook file and a metadata file are included. Once downloaded HRS data can be appended to this release of the harmonized cross-national RELATE data file.

Minor changes are made in this May, 2015 version. Three variables: PERSONID, PERSONID_RUS, and HOUSEID are dropped. PROVINCE_CHNSA is changed to PROVINCE_CHSAGE. A new note about this data file is added. Spelling errors are corrected in a couple of the Chinese provinces.

Keyword Descriptors: aging, cardiovascular disease, childhood health, childhood socioeconomic status, chronic conditions, demographic transitions, developed world, developing world, diabetes, early life conditions, functionality, mortality, obesity, older adult health, physical limitations, self-reported health

Methodology: The selection of countries for this study was based on their diversity but also on the availability of comprehensive cross sectional/panel survey data for older adults born in the early to mid-20th century in low, middle and high income countries. These data were then utilized to create the harmonized cross-national RELATE data (Part 1).

Specifically, data that are being released in this version of the RELATE study come from the following studies:

CHNS (China Health and Nutrition Study)
CLHLS (Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey)
CRELES (Costa Rican Study of Longevity and Healthy Aging)
PREHCO (Puerto Rican Elderly: Health Conditions)
SABE (Study of Aging Survey on Health and Well Being of Elders)
SAGE (WHO Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health)
WLS (Wisconsin Longitudinal Study)

Most studies included in the RELATE data are representative of the older adult population either nationally, in major urban centers or in major provinces. Some studies are representative samples of households from which older adults were selected. In almost all cases studies obtained very respectable response rates.

Sample weights are applicable to all countries except the United States (Wisconsin) data and the China (CHNS) data. Most country-specific surveys had a single sample weight variable.

Note that the countries selected represent a diverse range in national income levels: Barbados and the United States (including Puerto Rico) represent high income countries; Argentina, Cuba, Uruguay, Chile, Costa Rica, Brazil, Mexico, and Russia represent upper middle income countries; China and India represent lower middle income countries; and Ghana represents a low income country.

Users should refer to the technical report that accompanies the RELATE data for more detailed information regarding the sampling and study design of the surveys used in the construction of the cross national data:

McEniry, M., Moen, S., & McDermott, J. (2013). Methods report on the compilation of the RELATE cross national data on older adults from 20 low, middle and high income countries. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.

Data were then deposited with the Data-Sharing for Demographic Research (DSDR) Archive at the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), where DSDR staff processed and curated the study, in collaboration with Dr. McEniry. All labeling and coding issues or errors were resolved as the files were processed. RELATE is available from ICPSR as Study 34241.

Geographic Coverage: Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Chile, China (Peoples Republic), Costa Rica, Cuba, Ghana, India, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, United States, Uruguay.

Time Span: 1996-2008

Funding Support: United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Aging (Grant Number K25AG027239)

Assari, Shervin. 2015. "Cross-Country Differences in the Additive Effects of Socioeconomics, Health Behaviors and Medical Comorbidities on Disability among Older Adults with Heart Disease." Journal of Tehran University Heart Center. 10, (1), 24-33.

McEniry, M. 2014. Early life Conditions and Rapid Demographic Changes: Consequences for Older Adult Health. In press with Springer Science and Business Media. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer Science and Business Media. (PDF file of book cover with abstract)

Documentation: A technical methods report and a separate codebook for the cross-national data set are available for download. The appendices of the technical methods report are meant to be codebooks for the data found in country-specific data files. Please refer to this report for more information:

McEniry, M., Moen, S., & McDermott, J. 2013. Methods Report on the Compilation of the RELATE Cross National Data on Older Adults from 20 Low, Middle and High Income Countries. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.

Data Files: 19 ASCII data files

File Specification: See documentation file RelateV2About.pdf

DISC Note: The data files were downloaded from ICPSR according to Mary McEniry's instruction. DISC staff changed the file names to reflect the name of the country in each data file. Setup files for Stata, SAS and SPSS were edited from the same setup files obtained from ICPSR. The editing was done to reflect the file naming convention for this copy of the RELATE study distributed by DISC. DISC does not distribute RELATE data files in Stata, SAS and SPSS formats. For such system files, please obtain them from ICPSR (Study 34241).