Mesuring the Health of Populations: The Veil of Ignorance Approach


We report the results from two surveys designed to explore whether an application of Harsanyi's principle of choice form behind a veil of ignorance (VEI) can be used in order to measure the health of populations. This approach was tentatively recommended by Murray et al. [1, 2] as an appropriate way of constructing Summary Measures of Population Health (SMPH) for comparative purposes. The operationalization of the VEI approach used in this paper was suggested by Nord [3]. We test if VEI and person tradeoff (PTO) methods generate similar quality-of-life weights. In addition, we compare VEI and PTO weights with individual utilities estimated by means of the conventional standard gamble (SG) and a variation of it we call Double Gamble. Finally, psychometric properties like feasibility, reliability, and consistency are examined. Our main findings are next: (1) VEI and PTO approaches generate very different weights; (2) it seems that differences between PTO and VEI are not due to the "Rule of Rescue"; (3) the VEI resembled more a DG than a classical SG; (4) PTO, VEI, and DG exhibited good feasibility, reliability and consistency.