Characteristics of the Berlin Aging Study

  • The comprehensive, intensive examination of a heterogeneous, locally representative sample of 516 old people whose long-term progress is traced across 7 further measurement sessions

  • A focus on the very old (70 to over 100)

  • A broad-based multidisciplinary approach whose goal is to generate a reference data set spanning a broad range of different functional areas

  • The investigation of changes associated with aging and death in the very old

Research Units

Four research units cooperate closely in the conceptualization, planning, implementation, data analyses, and publications of the Berlin Aging Study:

Theoretical Orientations

  • Differential aging
  • Continuity vs. discontinuity
  • Plasticity and reserve capacity (range and limits)
  • Aging as a systemic phenomenon

Prototypical Questions

Prototypical Questions
© MPI fuer Bildungsforschung
  1. Are individual age differences predictable on the basis of life history data?
  2. How large are age differences within domains, and which direction do they take?
  3. How are the transdisciplinary relationships across different domains?
  4. How do characteristics, processes, links between them change in the course of aging?

Note that the fourth question can only be answered with longitudinal data following individuals as they age!


Usage by External Scientists

The data from all occasions of measurement are collected in a well-documented central database. Information about access to their documentation and the application process for usage of BASE data can be found here.


Berlin Aging Study (BASE)
basempi [at] mpib-berlin [dot] mpg [dot] de


The monographs on BASE are available via bookshops.

Lindenberger, U., Smith, J., Mayer, K. U., & Baltes, P. B. (Eds.). (2010). Die Berliner Altersstudie (3rd ext. ed.). Berlin: Akademie Verlag. Table of Contents (in German)

Baltes, P. B., & Mayer, K. U. (Eds.). (1999, 2001). The Berlin Aging Study: Aging from 70 to 100. New York: Cambridge University Press. Table of Contents

Mayer, K. U., & Baltes, P. B. (Eds.). (1996, 1999). Die Berliner Altersstudie (1. & 2. Aufl.). Berlin: Akademie Verlag (out of print).

Introductory Publications

Baltes, P. B., Mayer, K. U., Helmchen, H., & Steinhagen-Thiessen, E. (1993). The Berlin Aging Study (BASE): Overview and design. Ageing and Society, 13, 483–515. doi: 10.1017/S0144686X00001343

Baltes, P. B., Mayer, K. U., Helmchen, H., & Steinhagen-Thiessen, E. (2001). The Berlin Aging Study (BASE): Sample, design, and overview of measures. In P. B. Baltes & K. U. Mayer (Eds.), The Berlin Aging Study: Aging from 70 to 100 (pp. 15–55). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Smith, J., & Delius, J. A. M. (2010). Längsschnittliche Datenerhebungen der Berliner Altersstudie (BASE): Studiendesign, Stichproben und Forschungsthemen 1990–2009. In U. Lindenberger, J. Smith, K. U. Mayer, & P. B. Baltes (Eds.), Die Berliner Altersstudie (3rd ed., pp. 113–131). Berlin: Akademie Verlag.

Smith, J., Maas, I., Mayer, K. U., Helmchen, H., Steinhagen-Thiessen, E., & Baltes, P. B. (2002). Two-wave longitudinal findings from the Berlin Aging Study: Introduction to a collection of papers. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 57B, P471–P473. doi: 10.1093/geronb/57.6.P471

See also Publications