Int J Adolesc Med Health 2017 Aug 25;31(6). Epub 2017 Aug 25.
Mannheim Institute of Public Health, Social and Preventive Medicine, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany.
Background Little is known about the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and health in late adolescence. As it is difficult to measure SES in this age group directly, we used two subjective social status (SSS) scales with different reference groups for social comparison in the relatively homogeneous group of university students and analyzed the relationship with health and health behaviors. Methods We used two 10-rung ladders, a societal and a university one, to measure SSS in students (n = 689, 16-29 years). We compared the scales' ratings and analyzed relationships with sociodemographic factors, health outcomes and behaviors. Results On average, students rated their individual SSS higher on the university scale (6.87) than on the societal one (6.41). Regarding health outcomes and behaviors, we found similar results for both scales, while sociodemographic variables were more likely to be associated with the societal scale. Conclusion SSS seems to be a useful measure besides the objective SES. Our data suggest that both SSS scales are helpful in the framework of health inequality but differ slightly in what they measure. More detailed research may help to determine which scale is appropriate for individual study context.