Socioeconomic status (SES) for epidemiology of health risk

Ingrid Wilbacher, Sabrina WINKLER, Markus PETER, Gottfried ENDEL


The legal framework of the Austrian social insurance system distinguishes 566 entitlement conditions, which are determined by current occupation or living conditions. A person may fulfil more than one entitlement condition at the same time as well as they may change over time. A unique ID number is assigned to each insured person, which makes it possible to file all entitlements of a certain person in a central database. We ranked these 566 entitlement conditions according to the WHO social determinants of health and developed an index-value for each entitlement condition to calculate a socioeconomic index value, which is the mean of all entitlements a person has gained in the last 30 years. In order to take this time span into account, a weighted mean was applied with the recent past carrying more weight than the distant past. The socioeconomic value calculated in this way may be used to identify population groups at special (social) risk, who need to be given more attention as regards their health care.

Keywords. Socioeconomic status, health insurance, determinants of health

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