How to measure socioeconomic status using census data in developing countries?

Dorothy Gondwe, Uttam Sharma, Aine Seitz McCarthy, Rodrigo Lovaton Davila, Phatta Kirdruang

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This research aims to develop a reliable and robust measure for socioeconomic status at the household level using census data available from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series- International (IPUMS-I), the world's largest census database. First, we use principal component analysis to compute a wealth index based on housing characteristics and asset ownership, with separate measures for rural and urban areas. The validation strategies include comparing our proposed index with the widely used Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) wealth indices and then verifying the predictive power of our index on selected outcomes. Moreover, we attempt to identify general conditions necessary to produce a robust asset index based on census data. Preliminary results based on the wealth indices from four separate samples reveal estimates comparable to the DHS indices. Conditioned on the reliability of the results, this measure will be included in the IPUMS-I database for further research.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2011
EventPopulation Association of America Annual Meeting 2011 - Marriott Wardman Park, Washington D.C., United States
Duration: Mar 31 2011Apr 2 2011


ConferencePopulation Association of America Annual Meeting 2011
Abbreviated titlePAA 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityWashington D.C.


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