Optimal indicators of socioeconomic status for health research

Am J Public Health. 2002 Jul;92(7):1151-7. doi: 10.2105/ajph.92.7.1151.


Objectives: In this study we examined the relationship between indicators of socioeconomic status (SES) and mortality for a representative sample of individuals.

Methods: The sample included 3734 individuals aged 45 and older interviewed in 1984 in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. In the current study, mortality was tracked between 1984 and 1994 and is related to SES indicators of education, occupation, income, and wealth.

Results: Wealth and recent family income were the indicators that were most strongly associated with subsequent mortality. These associations persisted after we controlled for the other SES indicators and were stronger for women than for men and for non-elderly than for elderly individuals.

Conclusions: We found that the economic indicators of SES were usually as strongly associated with mortality as, if not more strongly associated with mortality than, the more conventional indicators of completed schooling and occupation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Occupations
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Research
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • United States / epidemiology