Beyond conventional socioeconomic status: examining subjective and objective social status with self-reported health among Asian immigrants

J Behav Med. 2012 Aug;35(4):407-19. doi: 10.1007/s10865-011-9367-z. Epub 2011 Jul 1.


Despite mounting evidence for a strong and persistent association between socioeconomic status (SES) and health, this relationship is largely unknown among Asian immigrants, a fast growing minority group in the US population. Previous research has typically focused on objective SES (primarily education and income) and ignored self-perceived SES. Using data from the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS) (N = 1,570), we examined the impact of subjective as well as objective SES upon multiple self-reported health outcomes among Asian immigrants. Results indicated that conventional SES indicators by and large were non-significantly related to self-rated physical health, physical discomfort, self-rated mental health, and psychological distress. In contrast, subjective SES relative to people in the United States and people in the community showed strong associations with health outcomes above and beyond conventional SES markers. This study suggested a promising avenue to incorporate subjective SES in health disparities research, especially among immigrants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asia / ethnology
  • Data Collection
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Report
  • Social Class*
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology
  • United States
  • Young Adult