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Socioeconomic Status

Theoretical Background, Measurement, Conclusion


Social inequality is a fundamental characteristic of the fabric of society. Rich or poor; advantaged or disadvantaged; privileged or underprivileged: each contrast speaks to differences among people that are consequential for the lives they lead.

Whether in describing patterns of inequality or examining the consequences of inequality, the results depend upon how inequality is conceptualized and measured. Socioeconomic status is among the most prominent concepts in inequality research. The term socioeconomic status refers to the relative hierarchical placement of a unit (e.g., an individual, a community) along a gradient stratified by social and economic resources.


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