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Assessment. 2002 Jun;9(2):145-55.

Measuring socioeconomic status: reliability and preliminary validity for different approaches.

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Department of Psychology, Georgia State University, Atlanta 30303, USA.


This study investigated issues related to commonly used socioeconomic status (SES) measures in 140 participants from three cities (Atlanta, Boston, and Toronto) in two countries (United States and Canada). Measures of SES were two from the United States (four-factor Hollingshead scale, Nakao and Treas scale) and one from Canada (Blishen, Carroll, and Moore scale). Reliability was examined both within (interrater agreement) and across (intermeasure agreement) measures. Interrater reliability and classification agreement was high for the total sample (ranger = .86 to .91), as were intermeasure correlations and classification agreement (range r = .81 to .88). The weakest agreement across measures was found when families had one wage earner who was female. Validity data for these SES measures with academic and intellectual measures also were obtained. Some support for a simplified approach to measuring SES was found. Implications of these findings for the use of SES in social and behavioral science research are discussed.

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