Do Danes and Italians rate life satisfaction in the same way? Using vignettes to correct for individual-specific scale biases

Self-reported life satisfaction is highly heterogeneous across similar countries, a phenomenon that may be explained by the different scales and benchmarks that people use to evaluate themselves. This study uses cross-sectional data gathered from older populations in ten European countries to compare estimates from a model that assumes reporting styles are constant across respondents against estimates from a model in which anchoring vignettes help correct for individual-specific scale biases. Variations in response scales explain much of the difference in the raw data. Moreover, the cross-country ranking in life satisfaction depends significantly on scale biases.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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