Objective and Subjective Socioeconomic Status, Their Discrepancy, and Health: Evidence from East Asia

  • Emma Zang
  • Anthony R. BardoEmail author


Socioeconomic status (SES) is largely understood to be a fundamental determinant of health. Recently, subjective socioeconomic status (SSS) has emerged as a potentially important predictor of health above and beyond traditional (i.e., objective) SES indicators (OSS). The current study adds to this emerging body of research by examining the potentially important role of status discrepancies for health outcomes. We used nationally representative data from three East Asian countries (China, Japan, and South Korea) (2010 East Asian Social Survey) and a non-linear statistical technique (i.e., diagonal mobility model) to simultaneously model the independent contributions of OSS and SSS and their discrepancy for three health outcomes. Findings showed that SSS does, in fact, explain additional variation in health net of OSS in most cases, and status discrepancy is not associated with any of the three health outcomes. While status discrepancy was not found to be a driving factor in determining the predictive power of SSS net of OSS (at least in East Asia), the present study adds robustness to the accumulating evidence that challenges the social inequality hypothesis and provides a basis from which future research can build and contribute further to the understanding surrounding socioeconomic status and health outcomes.


Diagonal mobility model Health disparities International Socio-Economic Index Social inequality 



Thanks to three anonymous reviewers for their incredibly constructive comments and Linda George for her feedback on earlier versions of this work.


This work was supported by the National Institutes on Aging [NIAT32AG000139].


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sanford School of Public PolicyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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