The five research projects of the bachelor students of Erasmus School of Economics who were selected to participate in the fifth edition of the SHARE (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe) User Conference were well-received by the audience. Many people expressed their surprise that the research had been conducted by bachelor students. Working with Robin L. Lumsdaine, visiting professor at Erasmus School of Economics, the students initially became familiar with the SHARE dataset through their case studies work and continued to use it for their bachelor thesis.
'It was important for the students’ projects to be assessed under the same criteria as everyone else’s', said Lumsdaine of the fact that organizers were not told in advance that some of the projects were submitted by students. 'It is rare to have undergraduate projects on the program of a conference of this caliber and the fact that so many were selected speaks to the research excellence at Erasmus School of Economics. Being at the conference represented both the culmination of all the students’ hard work and an opportunity to generate new ideas for future research'. Two of the presented projects were joint collaborations with Professor Lumsdaine. The first project, with Lisanne van Prooyen Schuurman and Eline van de Ven, considers how difficult episodes early in life (e.g., hunger, stress, financial hardship) affect people’s views about their future standard of living. The second project, with Sebastiaan Visser, conducts a cross-national comparison of the influence of question order and wording on responses to a survey question asking people to rate their health, additionally using data from China. In addition to the two joint projects, three students also presented their bachelor thesis work. Jesse Owie’s thesis looked at whether having a positive attitude influences a person’s willingness to take financial risks while Lisanne van Prooyen Schuurman’s thesis compared the effects of the recent financial crisis on elderly in Spain and Italy versus those in Germany and the Netherlands. Sebastiaan Visser’s thesis focused on what factors lead to productive aging in China and compared the results to factors in Europe (using SHARE).
Upon returning to Erasmus, the students were asked about their experience -- 'inspirational', noted van de Ven. 'It was an amazing experience. It has shown how fascinating research is,' said van Prooyen Schuurman. Visser also highlighted 'how great it was to have a clear view into the world of researchers.' 'It was amazing to be given the opportunity”, said Owie. 'It was also exciting to meet in real life the people whose work we had read and cited in our studies.'