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Insights from my two-week research visit at the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy & Research in Vienna

I am a teaching assistant and a PhD candidate in sociology at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Croatia. As a researcher interested in the sociology of health and ageing, I was excited to visit the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy & Research in Vienna - not only because of the opportunity to work on the SHARE dataset (Survey of Health, Ageing & Retirement in Europe), but also because of the possibility to engage in the exchange of research ideas and knowledge with colleagues abroad who are working on similar academic topics and facing similar research challenges.

The Survey of Health, Ageing & Retirement in Europe is a valuable resource for researchers investigating policy effects over the life course and issues associated with ageing populations. Having never worked with SHARE data before, I hoped to gain proficiency in utilizing the dataset during my visit. With the support of Cassandra Simmons – I am proud to say that I achieved this goal during my visit. Her guidance was invaluable for understanding and navigating this vast dataset. Furthermore, our frequent discussions on many topics related to health, ageing and long-term care in Europe were truly motivating and contributed to the further development my research interests. It was a real pleasure working with her for two weeks.

During my visit, I had worked on analysing the relationship between childhood socioeconomic status and health-related behaviours among Croatian older adults using latent profile analysis (LPA). However, after experiencing convergence issues and null findings, I decided to devise a new research interest and started working on gender inequalities in informal care in Croatia. Thanks to the support I received from Cassandra, my days at the European Centre proved to be rather productive - by the end of my research visit, I managed to finish most of the analyses and will start writing the paper upon my return to Zagreb.

Expectedly, Vienna proved to be a vibrant city with lots to offer in terms of cultural activities, entertainment, and cuisine. After working at the European Centre during the day, I spent most of my free time walking around the city, enjoying the architecture and doing some street photography.  Because my visit took place in late January when days are rather short, on weekdays after departing from work I unfortunately got to experience Vienna exclusively during night time. However, I was lucky enough to have had a sunny weekend­, so I took the opportunity to go hiking in the Vienna woods on the edge of the city. Vienna is also a city with truly amazing restaurants, with many places offering traditional Austrian dishes, as well as various delicious international offerings.

Overall, I highly recommend researchers at all career stages to consider visiting the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy & Research in Vienna as part of the Coordinate TAV program. Applicants will have an opportunity to learn how to utilize this extensive multinational longitudinal panel data with the invaluable support of colleagues in the healthcare research group at the European Centre in Vienna.


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