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I feel good! Gender differences and reporting heterogeneity in self-assessed health

Pfarr, Christian and Schneider, Brit S. and Schneider, Udo and Ulrich, Volker (2010): I feel good! Gender differences and reporting heterogeneity in self-assessed health.

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Abstract

For empirical analysis and policy-oriented recommendation, the precise measurement of individual health or well-being is essential. The problem with variables based on questionnaires such as self-assessed health is that the answer may depend on individual reporting behaviour. Moreover, if individual‟s health perception varies with certain attitudes of the respondent reporting heterogenei-ty may lead to index or cut-point shifts of the health distribution, causing estimation problems. We analyse the reporting behaviour of individuals on their self-assessed health status, a five-point categorical variable. We explore observed heterogeneity in categorical variables and include unob-served individual heterogeneity using German panel data. Estimation results show different im-pacts of socioeconomic and health related variables on the five subscales of self-assessed health. Moreover, the answering behaviour varies between female and male respondents, pointing to gen-der specific perception and assessment of diseases. Reporting behaviour on self-assessed health questions in surveys is problematic due to a possible heterogeneity. Hence, in case of reporting heterogeneity, using self-assessed measures in empirical studies may be misleading or at least ambiguous.

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