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The COMPARE project collects survey data aimed at creating internationally comparable measures of several dimensions of the quality of life - health, economic position, work disability, contacts with family and friends, health care quality, political efficacy, and satisfaction with life as a whole. Its full name is "Toolbox for Improving the Comparability of Cross-National Survey Data with Applications to SHARE".

Quality of life is typically measured with subjective questions, such as "how good is your health?" with possible answers "very good", "good", "moderate", "fair" or "poor." International comparisons of such answers may be biased if people in different countries use these response scales differently. For example, someone in Denmark may answer his health is "very good," but someone with exactly the same health but living in Portugal may answer "good." COMPARE aims at making answers comparable by correcting for such response scale differences. The method that is used for this is the technique of Anchoring Vignettes.

Anchoring vignettes are short descriptions of, e.g., the health or job characteristics of hypothetical persons. Respondents are asked to evaluate the hypothetical persons on the same scale on which they assess their own health or job. Respondents are thus providing an anchor, which fixes their own health assessment to a predetermined health status or job characteristic. These anchors can then be used to make subjective assessments comparable across countries and socio-economic groups.

COMPARE is part of the family of research projects linked to SHARE, the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. Data collection is in parallel to the SHARE data collection in waves 2004 and 2006-2007 and follows the same procedures. The sample covers respondents of age 50 and older and their spouses in 10 EU countries: Sweden, Germany, Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Czech Republic, Spain, Italy and Greece. Similar data will also be collected in Denmark (funded by NIA). In all other countries data collection is funded by the European Commission through the STREP project COMPARE # 028857 in the Citizens and Governance in a Knowledge-Based Society Programme.