Empirical Economics

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 513–538 | Cite as

Heterogeneity in health responses and anchoring vignettes

  • Franco PeracchiEmail author
  • Claudio Rossetti


In this article we employ the tool of anchoring vignettes to analyze gender differences in self-assessments of health in Europe. We propose and estimate an extension of the basic vignette model for correcting the lack of interpersonal comparability of self-assessments on a categorical scale. Our extension allows for potential correlation in the self-assessments of health on different domains by including an unobservable individual effect, common to all domains but different across individuals, in both the thresholds and the equations for the latent health problems. After applying this model to the SHARE data, we find that vignettes help narrow gender differences in self-assessments of health, although these differences are not entirely eliminated.


Self-assessment of health Health domains Anchoring vignettes Reporting bias 

JEL Classification

C35 C81 I10 J14 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bago D’Uva T, Van Doorslaer E, Lindeboom M, O’Donnell O (2008) Does reporting heterogeneity bias the measurement of health disparities. Health Econ 17: 351–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bago d’Uva T, Lindeboom M, O’Donnell O, van Doorslaer E (2011) Slipping anchor? testing the vignettes approach to identification and correction of reporting heterogeneity. J Hum Resour 46(4): 872–903Google Scholar
  3. Baker M, Stabile M, Deri C (2004) What do self-reported, objective measures of health measure?. J Hum Resour 39(4): 1067–1093CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Börsch-Supan A, Jürges H (2005) The survey of health, aging, and retirement in Europe. Methodology. Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging, MannheimGoogle Scholar
  5. Case A, Deaton A (2005) Broken down by work and sex: how our health declines. In: Wise D (eds) Analyses in the economics of aging. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  6. Case A, Paxson C (2005) Sex differences in morbidity and mortality. Demography 42: 189–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Datta Gupta N, Kristensen N, Pozzoli D (2010) External validation of the use of vignettes in cross-country health studies. Econ Model 27(4): 854–865CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Deaton A (2008) Income, health, and well-being around the world: Evidence from the gallup world poll. J Econ Perspect 22: 53–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Johnston D, Propper C, Shields M (2009) Comparing subjective and objective measures of health: Evidence from hypertension for the income/health gradient. J Health Econ 28: 540–552CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Jürges H (2007) True health vs response styles: exploring cross-country differences in self-reported health. Health Econ 16: 163–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kapteyn A, Smith J, van Soest A (2007) Vignettes and self-reports of work disability in the united states and the netherlands. Am Econ Rev 97: 461–473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. King G, Wand J (2007) Comparing incomparable survey responses: evaluating and selecting anchoring vignettes. Polit Anal 15: 46–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. King G, Murray C, Salomon J, Tandon A (2004) Enhancing the validity and cross-cultural comparability of measurement in survey research. Am Polit Sci Rev 98: 191–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lindeboom M, van Doorslaer E (2004) Cut-point shift and index shift in self-reported health. J Health Econ 23: 1083–1099CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Rantanen T, Guralnik J, Foley D, Masaki K, Leveille S, Curb J et al (1999) Midlife hand grip strength as a predictor of old age disability. J Am Med Assoc 21: 558–560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Salomon J, Mathers C, Chatterji S, Sadana R, Üstün T, Murray C (2003) Quantifying individual levels of health: definitions, concepts and measurement issues. In: Murray C, Evans D (eds) Health systems performance assessment: debates, methods and empiricism. World Health Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  17. Salomon J, Tandon A, Murray C (2004) Comparability of self rated health: cross sectional multi-country survey using anchoring vignettes. Br Med J 328: 258–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Sen A (2002) Health: perception versus observation. Br Med J 324: 860–861CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. van Soest A, Delaney L, Harmon C, Kapteyn A, Smith J (2011) Validating the use of anchoring vignettes for the correction of response scales differences in subjective questions. J R Stat Soc A 174: 575–595CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tor Vergata University and EIEFRomeItaly
  2. 2.LUISSRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations