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Preparing for the Challenges of Population Aging in Asia: Strengthening the Scientific Basis of Policy Development V strengthening sCienCe to inforM PoliCY t o meet the needs of their rapidly aging populations over the next few decades, asian governments need to devote significant resources to research on the issues facing older people. experience suggests a number of ways in which aging research can be especially useful for policy makers. in the absence of randomized trials or social experiments, observational research that is longitudinal in design—that is, that uses data gathered from the same respondents on a number of differ- ent occasions—can be especially effective in untangling some of the key causal relationships related to aging.34 for example, how do mandated changes in pen- sion plans affect individual savings? or, how do income levels affect health? longitudinal data sets possess a number of advantages over cross-sectional data, although they can also be costly to implement, suffer from sample attrition between survey waves, and offer challenges in terms of keeping the sample representative of the general population over time. all of these issues, however, can be addressed through thoughtful design and careful administration. understanding the needs and behav- iors of populations as they get older will require information and insights from a variety of specialties, including demography, psychology, sociology, economics, statistics, gerontology, and medicine. thus, surveys of older persons are likely to prove particularly useful if they provide policy-related information on a variety of topics—including basic demographic details, family relationships and interactions, employment and income, pensions, assets, health status, and health care utilization—allowing researchers to examine the inter- actions between different domains.  PreParing for the Challenges of PoPulation aging in asia Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

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Preparing for the Challenges of Population Aging in Asia: Strengthening the Scientific Basis of Policy Development Well-designed population studies in a single country (which allow one to take advantage of within- country heterogeneity) are certainly valuable, but the value of any one country’s investment in data collection can be enhanced still further if similar data are collected elsewhere. Countries in the relatively early stages of population aging may especially benefit from the experience of countries whose populations have been aging for decades, although the challenges in different countries will undoubtedly vary somewhat according to local conditions and cultural factors. once the time and resources have been spent to collect data on aging populations, the best way to maximize the return from that investment is to make the data readily accessible to as broad a range of researchers as possible. Putting data into the public domain allows researchers to work independently, as well as creatively, and to replicate each others’ findings—thereby advancing the scientific process. the legitimate privacy and confidentiality concerns raised by the sharing of data from surveys of this sort can be handled with a number of effective methods, both legal and statisti- cal, for protecting the privacy of survey respondents. open access to data is enormously valuable to researchers within individual countries and is a prerequisite to truly meaningful scientific col- laboration among countries. Many surveys of adult and elderly populations contain important elements. however, a number of longitudinal studies are also under way in China, india, indonesia, Japan, south Korea, and thailand that have great potential for building on existing data collection efforts and facilitating cross-national research (see Box 7). these studies, which are in various stages of development have been designed so that their data can be harmonized not only with one another, but also with comparable surveys such as the english longitudinal study of aging (elsa), the health and retirement study (hrs) in the united states, the Mexican health and aging study (Mhas), and the survey of health, ageing, and retirement in europe (share).35 4 PreParing for the Challenges of PoPulation aging in asia Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

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Preparing for the Challenges of Population Aging in Asia: Strengthening the Scientific Basis of Policy Development Box 7: country-level longItudInal populatIon studIes In asIa China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) CHARLS is a biennial survey that aims to be representative of the residents of China aged 45 and older. The sample size is estimated to be around 10,000 households and 17,000 individuals. The baseline survey took place in two provinces in the fall of 2008; the next wave will take place in 2011. The household survey includes the fol- lowing parts: demographic background; family; health status and functioning; health care and insurance; work, retirement, and pension; household and individual income, expenditure, and assets; and interviewer observation. A public version of CHARLS data is available online. Health, Aging and Retirement in Thailand (HART) HART is a biannual survey that seeks to monitor the health and retirement of the Thai population aged 45 and older. The pilot survey of HART, with a sample size of around 1,500 people, was conducted in 2009 in areas around Bangkok and in the Northern Provinces. The current plan is to reinterview the same people in 2011 while expanding the survey to the entire Thai population aged 45 and older. The HART questionnaire contains an array of information on demographic characteristics, family support, health, employment, income, assets and liabilities, and life satisfaction. Indonesian Family Life Survey (IFLS) IFLS began in 1993-1994, and subsequent waves were conducted in 1997, 2000, and 2007-2008. It administers questionnaires to more than 40,000 individuals living in approximately half the country’s provinces, creating a sample group that is representative of more than 80 percent of the country’s population. The survey contains a wealth of information at the individual and household levels, including multiple indicators of economic and noneconomic well-being. In addition to individual- and household-level information, IFLS provides detailed infor- mation from the communities in which IFLS households are located and from the facilities that serve residents of those communities. A public version of IFLS data is available online. Japanese Study of Aging and Retirement (JSTAR) JSTAR takes an interdisciplinary and longitudinal approach to studying the older population. The study started in 2007 with a random sample of 4,200 people aged 50 to 75 in five municipalities, and the goal is to increase the number of municipalities (now seven) to create a nationally representative sample. A public version of JSTAR is available online. Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging (KLoSA) KLoSa began in 2006. It surveys people aged 45 and older every 2 years, using a nationally representative sample of approximately 10,000 people. Topics are grouped into the following categories: demographics; family; health; employment; income; assets; and subjective expectations. A public version of KLoSA data is available online. Longitudinal Aging Study in India (LASI) LASI is now in its pilot phase. The study’s goal is to create a nationally representative survey of roughly 30,000 people aged 45 and over who will be followed for decades, with respondents being added over time to replace those who drop out or die. The pilot survey included both household and individual questions that covered: demographic characteristics; health and use of health care; family and social networks; housing; work and employment; income and consumption; assets and debts; and pensions. Study of Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE) SAGE collects data on respondents aged 18 and older, with an emphasis on people aged 50 and older, from nationally representative samples in China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Russia, and South Africa. A baseline cohort was created during 2002-2004, and the SAGE questionnaire was piloted in 2005. The data collected covered income; expenditures and transfers; work history; self-reported assessments of health linked to anchoring vignettes; risk factors; health care utilization; measured performance tests on a range of different aspects of health; well-being, happiness, and quality of life; and biomarkers. The first wave of SAGE was fully implemented in 2007-2009: it has a target sample size of 5,000 households with at least one respondent aged 50 or older and 1,000 households with a respondent aged 18-49. A second wave is being conducted during 2010-2011, and the plan is to implement future waves every 2 years. A public version of SAGE data is available online.  PreParing for the Challenges of PoPulation aging in asia Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.