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The measurement of SES in health research: current practice and steps toward a new approach

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  • Oakes, J. Michael
  • Rossi, Peter H.
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    Abstract

    The resurgence of social epidemiology has yet to induce corresponding research into basic measurement issues. This paper aims to motivate investigators to refocus attention on the measurement of socioeconomic status (SES). With a primarily American focus, we document striking paucity of basic research in SES, review the history of SES measurement, highlight the central limitations of current measurement approaches, sketch a new theoretical perspective, present new pilot results, and outline areas for future research. We argue (1) that lack of conceptual clarity and the bypassing of standard psychometric techniques have retarded SES measurement. And (2) social epidemiologists should revisit the measurement of SES and consider whether a richer, psychometrically induced, approach would be more useful. Our pilot study suggests a great deal of uniformity between existing SES measures and that a new approach may be worthy of pursuit.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 56 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 4 (February)
    Pages: 769-784

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:4:p:769-784

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    Related research

    Keywords: Socioeconomic Stratification Class Psychometrics USA;

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    Cited by:
    1. Theall, Katherine P. & Brett, Zoë H. & Shirtcliff, Elizabeth A. & Dunn, Erin C. & Drury, Stacy S., 2013. "Neighborhood disorder and telomeres: Connecting children's exposure to community level stress and cellular response," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 50-58.
    2. Aue, Katja & Roosen, Jutta, 2010. "Poverty and health behaviour: Comparing socioeconomic status and a combined poverty indicator as a determinant of health behaviour," 115th Joint EAAE/AAEA Seminar, September 15-17, 2010, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany 116401, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Hiyoshi, Ayako & Fukuda, Yoshiharu & Shipley, Martin J. & Bartley, Mel & Brunner, Eric J., 2013. "A new theory-based social classification in Japan and its validation using historically collected information," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 84-92.
    4. Hoeck, Sarah & François, Guido & Van der Heyden, Johan & Geerts, Joanna & Van Hal, Guido, 2011. "Healthcare utilisation among the Belgian elderly in relation to their socio-economic status," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 174-182, February.
    5. Shepherd, Dean A. & Kuskova, Valya & Patzelt, Holger, 2009. "Measuring the values that underlie sustainable development: The development of a valid scale," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 246-256, April.
    6. Millet, Kobe & Lamey, Lien & Van den Bergh, Bram, 2012. "Avoiding negative vs. achieving positive outcomes in hard and prosperous economic times," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 117(2), pages 275-284.

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