Sociology Index


Many of the concepts social scientists study are quite complex and cannot adequately be measured by a single indicator. In these cases researchers develop several indicators and in some case will give different weights to each indicator. This combination of indicators and weights is an index. Socioeconomic status is difficult to measure and typically the indicators of income, occupation and education are used. If occupation is seen as more central it may be given more weight. An index of socio-economic status is developed.

Index of socio-economic status (SES) was modelled as a linear combination of parents' education (FE and ME for fathers' and mothers' education, respectively), previous and present family social class (SC1 and SC2) based on fathers' occupation.

"We undertook an ecological study to investigate differences in coronary heart disease mortality within Nottingham health authority, England, to establish whether coronary mortality varied according to socio-economic status, and how mortality rates changed over a decade. An index of socio-economic status was developed from Census variables." "To explore the relationship between family average income (FAI; an index of socio-economic status) and Type 2 diabetes in a region of mainland China."

"To explore the relationship between family average income (FAI; an index of socio-economic status) and body mass index (BMI; a widely used, inexpensive indicator of weight status) above the healthy weight range in a region of Mainland China."  

Development of a Socio-Economic-Status Index Using United States Census Data. Grosset, Jane M.; Hawk, Thomas R.
Abstract: The study reported here employed a quasi-factorial ecological approach to explore the possibility of using economic and social indicators available from the 1980 census to construct a socio-economic status index. Factor score equations could be used to construct an index of socio-economic status index for each of the 49 zip codes in a large eastern city. In turn, students attending a public two-year college in the city could be assigned an socio-economic status measure on the basis of their residential zip code. Using census data, seven economic and social indicators were factor analyzed. Correlations of the socio-economic status indices with high-risk student behaviors, academic performance, and attrition were statistically significant in most analyses. Institutional efforts to use the socio-economic status variables in counseling and recruitment have been extremely cautious, in recognition of the fact that socio-economic status data can only be used in the context of a holistic assessment.

Creating and Validating an Index of Socioeconomic Status
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality -
Over the years, there has been considerable empirical evidence accumulated that indicates in the US that health status, mortality, and health services use differ by what has been referred to variously as socioeconomic status, social class, social position or socio-economic status. (Braveman et al. 2005). More recently, there has been a growing unease about the accumulation of evidence on the extent of variation in health status, mortality, and health services use that is associated with race and ethnicity (Krieger et al., 2005). While they are different, it is unfortunate that socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity are not independent of one another in their association with health status, mortality, and health services use. This has at times led to the mistaken use of race/ethnicity as a surrogate measure of socioeconomic status.
Because of this, it is particularly important to try to separate the influences of socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity on health and utilization of health services in our empirical research. The Medicare enrollment database (EDB) contains person-specific information on the demographic characteristics – age, gender, race/ethnicity – of beneficiaries. It does not, however, include any person-level measures that are typically considered indicators of socioeconomic status.
The EDB does contain residential address information for beneficiaries that can with some reasonable effort be transformed into a geocode that corresponds to US Census designated areas. These areas have some well-accepted indicators of socioeconomic status reported at least every 10 years. In fact, a literature has developed in Epidemiology, Social Medicine, Sociology of Health and Medicine that has established the relevance of socio-economic status measures at the level of meaningful homogeneous social aggregates like neighborhoods and communities. It has been shown that such social aggregates reflect common culture, behavior, norms, and values in response to selected symptoms of ill health, health care seeking behavior, as well as demonstrating likely differences in access to services, quality of available care, and discrimination in the provision of services.