IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Internationally comparable health indices


  • Erik Meijer
  • Arie Kapteyn
  • Tatiana Andreyeva


One of the most intractable problems in international health research is the lack of comparability of health measures across countries or cultures. We develop a cross-country measurement model for health, in which functional limitations, self‐reports of health, and a physical measure are interrelated to construct health indices. To establish comparability across countries, we define the measurement scales by the physical measure while other parameters vary by country to reflect cultural and linguistic differences in response patterns. We find significant cross‐country variation in response styles of health reports along with variability in genuine health that is related to differences in national income. Our health indices achieve satisfactory reliability of about 80% and their gradients by age, income, and wealth for the most part show the expected patterns. Moreover, the health indices correlate much more strongly with income and net worth than self‐reported health measures. Copyright (C) 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Erik Meijer & Arie Kapteyn & Tatiana Andreyeva, 2011. "Internationally comparable health indices," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(5), pages 600-619, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:20:y:2011:i:5:p:600-619

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Joseph P. Ferrie, 2001. "The Poor and the Dead: Socioeconomic Status and Mortality in the U.S., 1850-1860," NBER Historical Working Papers 0135, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Miles S. Kimball & Claudia R. Sahm & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2009. "Risk Preferences in the PSID: Individual Imputations and Family Covariation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 363-368, May.
    3. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-255, March-Apr.
    4. Jody L. Sindelar & Jason Fletcher & Tracy Falba & Patricia Keenan & William T. Gallo, 2007. "Impact of First Occupation on Health at Older Ages," NBER Working Papers 13715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1988:78:8:910-918_2 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Titus J. Galama & Patrick Hullegie & Erik Meijer & Sarah Outcault, 2012. "Is There Empirical Evidence For Decreasing Returns To Scale In A Health Capital Model?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(9), pages 1080-1100, September.
    2. Yolanda Pena-Boquete & Manuel Flores, 2013. "Earnings returns to education, experience and health: Evidence from EU-SILC," ERSA conference papers ersa13p1169, European Regional Science Association.
    3. Thomas Leoni, 2015. "Social Differences in Health Status and Use of the Health Care System," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 88(8), pages 649-662, August.
    4. Anneke Exterkate & Robin L. Lumsdaine, 2011. "How Survey Design Affects Inference Regarding Health Perceptions and Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 17244, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Steven F. Venti, 2013. "Comment on "A Comparison of Different Measures of Health and their Relation to Labor Force Transitions at Older Ages"," NBER Chapters,in: Discoveries in the Economics of Aging, pages 151-156 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Lumsdaine, Robin L. & Exterkate, Anneke, 2013. "How survey design affects self-assessed health responses in the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE)," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 299-307.
    7. N. N., 2015. "WIFO-Monatsberichte, issue 8/2015," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 88(8), August.
    8. McGovern, Mark E., 2014. "Comparing the relationship between stature and later life health in six low and middle income countries," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 4(C), pages 128-148.
    9. Manuel Flores & Adriaan Kalwij, 2013. "What do wages add to the health-employment nexus? Evidence from older European workers," Documentos de trabajo - Analise Economica 0054, IDEGA - Instituto Universitario de Estudios e Desenvolvemento de Galicia.
    10. Titus Galama & Patrick Hullegie & Erik Meijer & Sarah Outcault, 2012. "Empirical Evidence for Decreasing Returns to Scale in a Health Capital Model," Working Papers WR-928, RAND Corporation.
    11. Arie Kapteyn & Erik Meijer, 2013. "A Comparison of Different Measures of Health and their Relation to Labor Force Transitions at Older Ages," NBER Chapters,in: Discoveries in the Economics of Aging, pages 115-150 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:20:y:2011:i:5:p:600-619. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.