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).
The Health and Retirement Study (HRS) was also used in the compilation of the larger RELATE data set (HRS) (N=12,527), and these data are now available for public release on the HRS data products page. To access the HRS data that are part of the RELATE data set, please see the collection notes below.
United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Aging (K25AG027239)
Smallest Geographic Unit
country/region/city (depending on the dataset)
1996 -- 2008
Date of Collection
1996 -- 2008
Data Collection Notes
Data that are part of the complete Research on Early Life and Aging Trends and Effects (RELATE) data but are not yet available for download include data from the Matlab [Bangladesh] Health and Socio-Economic Survey (MHSS), Indonesia Family Life Survey (IFLS), English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), Mexican Health and Aging Study (MHAS), and Social Environment and Biomarkers of Aging Study in Taiwan (SEBAS). As a result, data from these surveys have been omitted from the harmonized cross-national RELATE data (Part 1) as well as country specific data files. However, data from Bangladesh (MHSS) is available as ICPSR 2705 and the Taiwan (SEBAS) survey is available as ICPSR 3792.
The funding information included in the "Funding" section of this study description relates exclusively to Dr. McEniry's project to create the RELATE dataset from existing data sources. In addition, the following individuals and Principal Investigators deserve recognition for being instrumental in the release of the first public version of RELATE: Drs. George Alter, Barry Popkin, David Weir, Yi Zeng, Luis Rosero-Bixby, Ana Luisa Dávila, Alberto Palloni, Somnath Chatterji, Paul Kowal, Pamela Herd, and Bob Hauser. Finally, it is important to highlight the main funding sources for each of the country specific studies that were used to create the RELATE data. The technical report that accompanies the RELATE data provides the links to the studies where this information can be obtained. In addition, there is a listing of funding sources in the appendices for those datasets that make up the first public release of the RELATE data. For more information on citing the technical report, please see collection note #4 below.
Instructions to access the HRS data that form part of the RELATE data set: Go to the HRS data products page. Once you are on the HRS data products page, click on "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.
The appendices of the technical methods report (or user guide) are meant to be codebooks for the data found in country-specific files. Please refer to the user guide for more information.
Users should cite the technical report provided with the RELATE data as: McEniry, M., Moen, S., and 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.
The purpose of this study was to compile and harmonize cross-national data from both the developing and developed world to allow for the examination of how early life conditions are related to older adult health and well being.
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)
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 study design of the surveys used in the construction of the cross-national data.
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.
Users should refer to the technical report that accompanies the RELATE data for more detailed information regarding the sampling of older adults used in the construction of the cross-national data.
Elderly adults surveyed between 1996 and 2008 from Argentina, Bangladesh, Barbados, Brazil, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, England, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Taiwan, the continental United States, and Uruguay.
Unit(s) of Observation
Study of Aging Survey on Health and Well Being of Elders (SABE)
WHO Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health in Mexico (WHO-SAGE)
Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS)
WHO Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health in Ghana (WHO-SAGE)
WHO Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health in the Russian Federation (WHO-SAGE)
WHO Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health in China (WHO-SAGE)
Puerto Rican Elderly: Health Conditions (PREHCO)
WHO Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health in India (WHO-SAGE)
China Health and Nutrition Study (CHNS)
Costa Rican Study of Longevity and Healthy Aging (CRELES)
WHO Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health in South Africa (WHO-SAGE)
Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS)
Description of Variables
The Research on Early Life and Aging Trends and Effects (RELATE) data includes an array of variables, including basic demographic variables (age, gender, education), variables relating to early life conditions (height, knee height, rural/urban birthplace, childhood health, childhood socioeconomic status), adult socioeconomic status (income, wealth), adult lifestyle (smoking, drinking, exercising, diet), and health outcomes (self-reported health, chronic conditions, difficulty with functionality, obesity, mortality). Not all countries have the same variables. Please refer to the technical report that is part of the documentation for more detail regarding the variables available across countries.
All studies included in the Research on Early Life and Aging Trends and Effects (RELATE) database obtained very respectable response rates. Please refer to the technical report that accompanies the data for more information.
Presence of Common Scales
Several Likert-type scales were used
Original Release Date
2013-06-12 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:
- Performed consistency checks.
- Created variable labels and/or value labels.
- Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.
2015-05-07 Two variables were dropped from the Harmonized Cross-national RELATE Data file (part 1). References to these variables in the documentation were removed and a collection note was added.
The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.
This study was originally processed, archived, and disseminated by Data Sharing for Demographic Research (DSDR), a project funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).