Socioeconomic Status and Class in Studies of Fertility and Health in Developing Countries

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Author(s): Bollen K A, Glanville J L, Stecklov G

Year: 1999

The concepts of socioeconomic status (SES) and class are pervasive in sociological studies, yet an examination of the sociological and social science literature suggests that there is a lack of consensus on their conceptual meaning and measurement. Our review focuses on the use of SES and class in a specific substantive field, studies of child health and fertility in developing countries. We provide a brief review of the theoretical literature on SES and class, contrasting unitary and component views. We then examine the use of SES and class in empirical studies of child health and fertility in developing countries and investigate the relationship between the conceptual and empirical literature, highlighting the inconsistencies we find. In addition, we discuss the variety of meanings and measures of SES that researchers use in these studies. Next, we address a series of methodological issues that arise from the review. Finally, we make recommendations for the treatment of SES and class in these and related areas.

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