Objective: Following revision of the international standard classification (ISCO88), to update and validate on health data an occupationally derived indicator of socio-economic status (SES) adapted to changing occupational and demographic conditions.
Method: The development of the New Zealand Socioeconomic Index (NZSEI) is based on a 'returns to human capital' model of the stratification process and uses data from the 1991 New Zealand Census (n = 1,051, 926) to generate scores for 97 occupational groups. The construct validation of the scale is carried out on data from the 1992-93 nationwide Household Health Survey (n = 3,000) using three health indicators (self-assessed health, cigarette smoking, general practitioner visits).
Results: In general, the results are consistent with expected socio-economic patterns drawn from the literature for the three indicators.
Conclusions: While further work is required on a number of methodological and conceptual issues, the NZSEI provides a robust, standardised and internationally comparable occupational scale of SES for both males and females in either full- or part-time employment.
Implications: The NZSEI can be used on routinely collected occupational data. It has a clear conceptual rationale, updates existing SES scales, and provides a link to international standards in SES and occupational classification.