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Social status (SS) is a multidimensional variable that is used widely in health research. There is no single optimal method for estimating social status. Rather, in each case the measurement may vary depending on the research subject, the base theory considered, the population of interest, the event of interest and, in some cases, the available information. This literature review develops the following topics related to SS measurement, based on the international scientific sources available electronically: i) identification of the role of SS in the context of social epidemiology research, ii) description of the principal indicators and methodological approaches used to measure SS in health research, and iii) analysis of the distinct difficulties of SS measurement in specific populations such as ethnic groups, women, children, the elderly, and in rural vs. urban contexts. The review finally makes it possible to describe some of the implications of SS measurement in Latin American countries.

Original publication




Journal article


Rev panam salud publica

Publication Date





457 - 468


Aged, Child, Demography, Educational Status, Ethnic Groups, Female, Global Health, Health Services Research, Humans, Income, Latin America, Male, Rural Health, Social Class, Urban Health, Vulnerable Populations