, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 659-671,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 13 May 2009

Examining Alternative Measures of Social Disadvantage Among Asian Americans: The Relevance of Economic Opportunity, Subjective Social Status, and Financial Strain for Health


Socioeconomic position is often operationalized as education, occupation, and income. However, these measures may not fully capture the process of socioeconomic disadvantage that may be related to morbidity. Economic opportunity, subjective social status, and financial strain may also place individuals at risk for poor health outcomes. Data come from the Asian subsample of the 2003 National Latino and Asian American Study (n = 2095). Regression models were used to examine the associations between economic opportunity, subjective social status, and financial strain and the outcomes of self-rated health, body mass index, and smoking status. Education, occupation, and income were also investigated as correlates of these outcomes. Low correlations were observed between all measures of socioeconomic status. Economic opportunity was robustly negatively associated with poor self-rated health, higher body mass index, and smoking, followed by financial strain, then subjective social status. Findings show that markers of socioeconomic position beyond education, occupation, and income are related to morbidity among Asian Americans. This suggests that potential contributions of social disadvantage to poor health may be understated if only conventional measures are considered among immigrant and minority populations.