Adolescent socio-economic and school-based social status, health and well-being

Soc Sci Med. 2014 Nov;121:39-47. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.09.037. Epub 2014 Sep 20.


Studies of adults and adolescents suggest subjective socio-economic status (SES) is associated with health/well-being even after adjustment for objective SES. In adolescence, objective SES may have weaker relationships with health/well-being than at other life stages; school-based social status may be of greater relevance. We investigated the associations which objective SES (residential deprivation and family affluence), subjective SES and three school-based subjective social status dimensions ("SSS-peer", "SSS-scholastic" and "SSS-sports") had with physical symptoms, psychological distress and anger among 2503 Scottish 13-15 year-olds. Associations between objective SES and health/well-being were weak and inconsistent. Lower subjective SES was associated with increased physical symptoms and psychological distress, lower SSS-peer with increased psychological distress but reduced anger, lower SSS-scholastic with increased physical symptoms, psychological distress and anger, and lower SSS-sports with increased physical symptoms and psychological distress. Associations did not differ by gender. Objective and subjective SES had weaker associations with health/well-being than did school-based SSS dimensions. These findings underline the importance of school-based SSS in adolescence, and the need for future studies to include a range of school-based SSS dimensions and several health/well-being measures. They also highlight the need for a focus on school-based social status among those working to promote adolescent health/well-being.

Keywords: Adolescent; Health; Peer status; Psychological well-being; School-based social status; Socio-economic status; Subjective social status; United Kingdom.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Schools*
  • Scotland
  • Social Class*
  • Social Environment
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological