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Do Danes and Italians Rate Life Satisfaction in the Same Way? Using Vignettes to Correct for Individual-Specific Scale Biases

  • Viola Angelini, Danilo Cavapozzi, Luca Corazzini, Omar Paccagnella.

Self-reported life satisfaction is highly heterogeneous across similar countries. We show that this phenomenon can by largely explained by the fact that individuals adopt different scales and benchmarks in evaluating themselves. Using a cross sectional dataset on individuals aged 50 and over in ten European countries, we compare estimates from an Ordered Probit in which life satisfaction scales are invariant across respondents with those from a Hopit model in which vignettes are used to correct for individual-specific scale biases. We find that variations in response scales explain a large part of the differences found in raw data. Moreover, the cross countries ranking in life satisfaction dramatically depends on scale biases.

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Paper provided by ISLA, Centre for research on Latin American Studies and Transition Economies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy in its series ISLA Working Papers with number 31.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:slp:islawp:islawp31
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  1. Teresa Bago d’Uva & Eddy Van Doorslaer & Maarten Lindeboom & Owen O’Donnell & Somnath Chatterji, 2006. "Does reporting heterogeneity bias the measurement of health disparities?," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 06/03, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
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  3. Teresa Bago d'Uva & Maarten Lindeboom & Owen O'Donnell & Eddy van Doorslaer, 2009. "Slipping Anchor? Testing the Vignettes Approach to Identification and Correction of Reporting Heterogeneity," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 09-091/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  4. Kristensen, Nicolai & Johansson, Edvard, 2006. "New Evidence on Cross-Country Differences in Job Satisfaction Using Anchoring Vignettes," Working Papers 06-1, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
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  8. Kapteyn, Arie & Smith, James P. & van Soest, Arthur, 2009. "Life Satisfaction," IZA Discussion Papers 4015, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  14. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2002. "How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
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  18. Andrew E. Clark, 2003. "Unemployment as a Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 289-322, April.
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