In a diverse continent like Europe, much can be learned from cross-national research using surveys among households and individuals. Often, however, such comparisons suffer from differences across countries and socio-economic groups in the way people answer survey questions, particularly self-evaluations of, e.g., health or quality of work. This proposal aims at solving this problem by developing widely applicable tools for comparative survey research among European citizens, called anchoring vignettes. Anchoring vignettes are short descriptions of, e.g., the health or job characteristics of hypothetical persons. Respondents are asked to evaluate the hypothetical persons on the same scale on which they assess their own health or job. Respondents are thus providing an anchor, which fixes their own health assessment to a predetermined health status or job characteristic. These anchors can then be used to make subjective assessments comparable across countries and socio-economic groups. The project will develop anchors that can be used in a broad range of domains (such as health; work disability; quality of life, employment and health care; satisfaction with political institutions) and that can be applied to typical EU sponsored cross-national surveys (such as the ECHP, ESS, SHARE and SILC). Specifically, anchors will be constructed for SHARE, the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, which currently covers some 22,000 respondents of age 50 and older in 11 EU countries. We use SHARE as a testing ground since it addresses crucial domains of European public policy, such as health care, socio-economic status, employment and retirement. The vignettes will be used to construct improved indicators of health, well-being, job satisfaction, etc., helping Europe to create opportunities for more accurate and richer analyses of the consequences of ageing and the effects of socio-economic and health care policies at the national and European level.
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