Bachelor students impress at SHARE Workshop in Cologne

A case studies project of five bachelor students of Erasmus School of Economics impressed at the Joint German and Dutch SHARE (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe) User Workshop in Cologne, Germany, on 16 May 2019. The only undergraduate project to be included on the programme was selected for a pitch presentation.

The research by students Fleur Bogaard, Ellen van Bergen, Gerlinde van den Bosse, Felix den Breejen and Diederick Clements was conducted under the supervision of Professor Robin L. Lumsdaine (Applied Econometrics) who early-on encouraged the students to submit their research, even though the deadline was the same week as the case studies seminar began. Lumsdaine: ‘The case studies project is designed for just this kind of opportunity.  Even though the early deadline was not ideal, I told the students that we knew they would have a completed paper and a presentation ready in time because both are required elements for the seminar, and the case studies completion deadline was three weeks before the workshop.’

Nonetheless, because the workshop was extracurricular and not a required element of the seminar, much of the preparation for it occurred in the students’ spare time. ‘It was a lot of work but it was worth it,’ says Fleur Bogaard, who delivered the pitch presentation at the workshop.  ‘We didn’t know what to expect,’ adds Felix den Breejen, noting that some of the people whose work they cited were among the participants.  ‘Everyone was really friendly and supportive,’ highlights Ellen van Bergen.  The students also enjoyed the rest of the workshop and being able to interact with other researchers that had used the same data; for all five students, it was their first research conference.  

Workshop includes keynote speech by health economist Dr Pilar García-Gómez

Also representing Erasmus School of Economics was Pilar García Gómez, whose keynote address “Health and Employment Over the Lifecycle” drew on her expertise in health economics.

‘The presentation by Dr García Gómez was very interesting,’ reports Gerlinde van den Bosse. Diederick Clements adds that it was great to see how researchers exchange ideas: ‘At the final session in our case studies seminar, we did something similar but to see it in real life was an incredible experience.’  All five students are now working on their bachelor theses.

Topic of the students’ research

The topic of the students’ research was how interviewer characteristics affect survey participants’ responses.  The results demonstrated that greater similarity between interviewers and respondents was associated with reductions in attrition (where a person does not consent to be interviewed in a subsequent survey), item non-response (where a person refuses to answer or responds “don’t know” to a particular question) and measurement error.  These findings are of particular importance to designers of large longitudinal surveys such as SHARE, many of whom were in attendance at the workshop. 

Professor Lumsdaine has often encouraged students new to research to engage with more-established researchers via conferences and publication, giving them an invaluable glimpse into the world of academia.  ‘It is important for the students’ projects to be assessed under the same criteria as everyone else’s’, says Lumsdaine of the fact that organisers were not told in advance that the project was submitted by students. ‘Their successful submission and Pilar García Gómez’ keynote speaks to the culture of research excellence that we foster at Erasmus School of Economics.’ Lumsdaine herself was unable to accompany the students to Cologne due to a scheduling conflict. She was presenting research that resulted from a previous bachelor supervision, with alumni Thomas T. Wiemann, at the Health Seminar on campus.    

More information

Click here to see the entire programme of the conference.