The European Commission Headquarters, also know as the Berlaymont building.

Social science event at the European Commission

The European Social Survey (ESS) organised a meeting with the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, in Brussels last week (Friday 13 September).

The event - Using social science data and research to help reduce global health inequalities - brought major social surveys that examine health outcomes and researchers together.

Commissioner Andriukaitis and colleagues from the Health and Food Safety directorate (DG SANTE) were presented with analysis and policy suggestions based on academic research.

Our director, Professor Rory Fitzgerald, introduced our survey, presented findings based on items included in every round of our survey and provided analysis of academic papers that used our data to provide clear policy changes.

Presentations were also delivered by representatives of two other large-scale international surveys: Tom Emery of the Generations and Gender Programme (GGP) and Annette Scherpenzeel of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE ERIC).

GGP is a survey that examines family and population dynamics including gender equality, low fertility, migration, family instability, economic insecurity and social mobility.

SHARE is a longitudinal panel study of European people aged 50 and over that examines the ways in which they live by examining their health, socio-economic status and social and family networks.

Both GGP and SHARE were involved in the Synergies for Europe's Research Infrastructures in the Social Sciences (SERISS) project that we coordinated until its conclusion last month.

Also invited to present policy-relevant research were researchers from CHAIN - Centre for Global Health Inequalities Research, EuroHealthNet - European Partnership for Health Equity and Wellbeing and Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy (MPISOC).

Mirza Balaj (CHAIN) presented research that examined the relationship between structural, social and individual processes, which generate and maintain social inequalities in health.

Balaj was part of the questionnaire design team led by Terje Andreas Eikemo who implemented our Round 7 (2014/15) module on health.

Simone Schneider, Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, introduced research that assessed public opinion on healthcare in Europe and its potential policy implications.

Director of EuroHealthNet, Caroline Costongs, explained some of the activities that they are undertaking to link social science and health research to policy makers.

The four-hour event was chaired by the new Head of Research and Industrial Infrastructures in the Research and Innovation directorate (DG RTL), Adam Tyson.

Professor Rory Fitzgerald commented: "This event underlined the power of social science data to answer policy driven questions. ESS was proud to lead on this event and will endeavour to continue to bring together social science RIs in the future."

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