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Comparing the Predictive Power of Subjective and Objective Health Indicators: Changes in Hand Grip Strength and Overall Satisfaction with Life as Predictors of Mortality

  • Jens Ambrasat
  • Jürgen Schupp
  • Gert G. Wagner

Self-reported measures of health are generally treated as weak measures of respondents' objective health status. On the other hand, most surveys use self-reported health to measure health status and to determine the effects of a range of other socio-economic characteristics of the local environment on individual health. It is therefore of interest to the public health research community to verify the validity of self-reported health data. We do this by analyzing data from a longitudinal household panel survey: the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP). In 2006, and again in 2008, hand grip strength was measured as part of the SOEP. The hand grip data can be compared with other indicators of health and well-being from the SOEP survey. In a first step, we examine short-term mortality outcomes predicted by changes in hand grip strength. Then we compare the predictive power of the results with those of a subjective indicator of well-being: overall life satisfaction. We find that both measures are related to mortality risk. However, the effects are quite independent. Thus we argue that changes in hand grip strength and overall life satisfaction capture two different aspects of health status and its changes. We therefore test this hypothesis by correlating the indicators with other survey-based health measures that were also taken in the SOEP in 2006 and 2008.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.378114.de/diw_sp0398.pdf
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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 398.

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Length: 12 p.
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp398
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  1. Nicolas R. Ziebarth, 2009. "Measurement of Health, the Sensitivity of the Concentration Index, and Reporting Heterogeneity," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 211, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  2. Denis Gerstorf & Nilam Ram & Guy Mayraz & Mira Hidajat & Ulman Lindenberger & Gert G. Wagner & Jürgen Schupp, 2010. "Late-Life Decline in Well-Being across Adulthood in Germany, the UK, and the US: Something Is Seriously Wrong at the End of Life," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 286, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  3. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
  4. Jens Ambrasat & Jürgen Schupp, 2011. "Handgreifkraftmessung im Sozio-oekonomischen Panel (SOEP) 2006 und 2008," Data Documentation 54, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  5. Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "Greifkraftmessung im Sozio-oekonomischen Panel (SOEP)," Data Documentation 23, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
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