An investigation into the usefulness of synthetic measures of occupation based wage for self-reported general health

Clemens, T. (2012) British Society for Population Studies (BSPS) annual conference 2012, University of Nottingham, UK, 10 - 12 September 2012 [SLS]

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Background: Obtaining accurate and unbiased measurements of individual income in many surveys is difficult owing to the sensitive nature of the information. Studies that do collect income often report differential missing data or mis-measurement and may also impact on overall survey response rates. These concerns formed part of the reason to reject calls to include an income question in the latest UK census in 2011. Lack of income information is problematic in many sociodemographic studies of health and mortality owing to the importance of income as a determinant of, for example mental and self-assessed health as well as mortality. Aims: This paper investigates the potential utility of a synthetic occupation based estimate of wages. Methods The study uses the SOC2000 classification of occupation to derive a hierarchical mixed model using data from the labour force survey which is then validated using self-rated health data from the Scottish Health Survey (SHS) 2003 and wave one (2009) of the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS). Findings: Our estimates compare favourably with the survey income measurements. This suggests that this approach could be used to account for income disparities in self-rated general health in those surveys where income is not directly measured including census based longitudinal studies.

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