Assessing the View From Bottom: How to Measure Socioeconomic Position and Relative Deprivation in Adolescents


Assessments of socioeconomic position and relative deprivation are important to many areas of child and adolescent research. These related constructs are typically measured using data on household income or parental education or occupation but such data can be difficult to collect in youth surveys. The World Health Organization’s Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study uses an inventory of common material assets in the home. The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Family Affluence Scale is used to measure socioeconomic conditions in 11- to 15-year-olds in more than 40 countries. This case examines the importance of socioeconomic position and relative deprivation to adolescent health and demonstrates simple calculations of these variables using the data from the Family Affluence Scale. We show how to transform a summation of material assets to a socioeconomic position index and apply Yitzhaki’s index of relative deprivation to material assets using schoolmates as a social comparison group. These calculations are useful to investigate the contextual determinants of health and developmental inequalities in young people and can be modified for other socioeconomic variables and populations.

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