The validity of measures of socioeconomic status of adolescents

Margaret E. Ensminger, Christopher B. Forrest, Anne W. Riley, Myungsa Kang, Bert F. Green, Barbara Starfield, Sheryl A. Ryan

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161 Scopus citations


This study examines the validity of measures of socioeconomic status (SES) as reported by adolescents. Adolescents completed a self-administered questionnaire that included eight measures of SES. Mothers also reported on selected measures of SES. Supporting criterion validity, adolescents and mothers had relatively high agreement on the SES measures. Older adolescents, those less involved in risk behaviors, and those who do better in school gave more accurate SES reports and/or were less likely to have missing SES data. Those in households without fathers were less likely to know fathers' information. Income was not asked of the adolescents. However, most adolescent-reported SES questions varied systematically and in the expected direction with mothers' income report. In terms of construct validity, the SES measures related to adolescent health measures in the predicted way - that is, those with higher SES were more likely to report better physical and emotional health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-419
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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