, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 243-260,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 03 Oct 2009

Indicators for Measuring Material Affluence of Adolescents in Health Inequality Research in Developing Countries


The aim of the present study was to (i) develop a material affluence scale (MAS) for measuring adolescent SES in health inequality research in developing countries, (ii) compare the association of the MAS with the parental SES measures (parental occupation and education), and (iii) evaluate the association of parental SES and MAS with key health and health behaviour indicators. We used school-based cross-sectional survey conducted in thirty districts within three administrative regions in southern Ghana (a West African country) among adolescents ages 12–18-year old (N = 1,195) as an example. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was used as the main statistical technique. MAS categorised adolescents into material affluence groups (MAS scores for the poorest, poor, average, affluent and most affluent were−1.679, −0.355, 0.354, 0.725 and 1.022 from the first principal component quintile respectively), it has adequate internal coherence (α = 0.622) and moderately correlates with parental SES (r = 0.39, p < 0.001). MAS and parental SES showed similar pattern of strength and direction of association with selected health and health behaviour indicators. MAS presents a viable alternative method for measuring adolescent’s SES in health inequality research in developing countries and could be useful as well in western countries.