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Socioeconomic Status Explained – How does it impact our society?

Socioeconomic Status Definition. What is low Socioeconomic Status?

What is Socioeconomic Status?

To put it simply, socioeconomic status pertains to a person’s or a group’s social class or social standing. Basically, socioeconomic status is a term that commonly deals with how well a person can support himself or herself based on their social standing.

Although, yes, a person’s determination to do well in life plays a huge role when it comes to identifying their socioeconomic status, some people are just born into great families with high socioeconomic status.

There are a lot of factors that affect a person’s socioeconomic status.

Parent’s Education and Wealth

The previous generation’s socioeconomic status has a huge impact on the socioeconomic status of the current generation. For example, an individual’s parents can be well-educated and wealthy. This will mean that the individual also enjoys the perks of his or her parents’ social status.

However, if the individual’s parents did not receive a proper education, and they do not make enough money, this only means that the individual will also have a low socioeconomic status for a period of time.

The Individual’s Education and Occupation

Even though the previous generation may significantly affect a person’s socioeconomic status, it is still his or her determination to strive harder and succeed to determine how his status will be. If they manage to finish college and find a well-paying job, then their socioeconomic status will surely rise.

Examples of Socioeconomic Status

We can view socioeconomic status as a triangle with 3 layers. We have High, Middle, and Low socioeconomic statuses.

High Socioeconomic Status

A high socioeconomic status implies that an individual enjoys a particularly lavish lifestyle with a high-paying job that supports his or her expenses.

For example, a surgeon who practices in the Mayo Clinic, one of the best hospitals in the globe, will have an average of $350,000 salary. This is more than enough to support themselves and their family.

Middle Socioeconomic Status

A person with a middle socioeconomic status is able to make ends meet. They can still live a somehow comfortable lifestyle. However, they need to continue working to support the comfortable living situation that they enjoy because if not, they will need to spend less.

For example, a teacher gets a regular salary that is enough to support her expenses. However, she should start saving up and pay her insurance because if she suddenly stops working, she would not have enough money to live the way she has been living.

Low Socioeconomic Status

A low socioeconomic status means that a person does not have enough money to live a somehow comfortable life. Usually, individuals under this category do not have nice educational attainments, making it harder for them to find jobs that will pay them well.

For example, someone who did not even finish high school will have minimal options for their occupation. This means that they will have a low income, placing them in the lowest category of socioeconomic status.

How to Measure Socioeconomic Status?

Typically, a person’s socioeconomic status is measured using three criteria. These are the following:

Educational Attainment

The first factor that affects an individual’s socioeconomic status is their educational attainment. We all know that education leads to a fruitful future because it provides better opportunities to help an individual become more successful in life.

A person who has a college degree has a higher chance of becoming successful in the field or industry that they want to pursue. It is said that education is probably the best thing that parents can give their child because it will shape the children to become more holistic and globally competitive adults in the future.


A person’s occupation is another factor in measuring their socioeconomic status. This goes hand-in-hand with the first factor, which is educational attainment. If a person’s occupation pays them well and if their monthly salary can support their lifestyle for a while, then they probably have a high socioeconomic status.

Common examples of people with well-paying occupations are:

  • Surgeons
  • Dentists
  • Attorneys
  • Government Officials
  • Engineers
  • Architects


A person’s income does not only come from their occupation. Income pertains to the money that someone gets on a regular basis. It can be sourced from their occupation, assets, investments, rental fees, or other fees that they collect regularly.

We all know that having a huge income means that a person is rich. Therefore, the more income a person has, the higher their socioeconomic status is. Financial security is probably the most important factor when it comes to the measurement of a person’s socioeconomic status.

What Does a Low Socioeconomic Status Mean?

When a person is categorized under a high socioeconomic status, this only means that their quality of living is exceptionally well and that they are able to provide anything that they need for themselves and their immediate family members.

This is the total opposite of low socioeconomic status, which refers to the category where people with little to no money belong to. Usually, a low socioeconomic status encompasses individuals with low educational attainment, low income, and entry-level jobs or no job at all.

Individuals under this category are usually under a lot of stress – this leads them to exhibit risky behaviors that can further affect their lifestyles. Because of their harsh realities, they tend to turn to illegal activities such as smoking marijuana and the usage of illegal drugs.

Unlike people who belong to the High and Middle socioeconomic class, the Low category people do not have the means to support themselves through rehab or anti-addiction facilities. Therefore, their abuse of substances only gets worse without any manifestations of improvement.

People from this population typically do not have insurance – this means that they do not have access to proper health care. With that said, they often get diagnosed with their illnesses when it’s too late because they only go to the hospital when they cannot endure the pain any longer.

Education and Socioeconomic Status

The relationship between education and socioeconomic status is both tragic and beautiful.

It is tragic because…

If an individual does not have access to proper education, his or her future will be greatly affected. Although it is not their fault, they will still suffer its consequences as they grow older and start facing the adult world.

With this, they would not have enough financial stability.

It is beautiful because…

If an individual has access to proper education, they will have the chance to pursue their chosen college degree. After graduating with a college degree, finding a job is easier. The chances of them landing a job in their chosen industry are higher because they have the educational credentials to back up for it.

Racial Minority and Socioeconomic Status

Socioeconomic status and racial minorities ‘ relationships are deeply intertwined. According to a study by the U.S Census Bureau in 2009, when stratification is considered, a person’s ethnicity and race often determine an individual’s socioeconomic status.

Because of this, they tend to belong under the Low category. They don’t get medical treatments frequently, leading to deplorable health conditions and late diagnosis of illnesses. They also have poor educational levels and low income.

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About the author

Jess Man

Jessica is the Editor-in-Chief and Senior Diversity Advisor at Diversity Social. Jessica has over 10 years of working with and advising employers to be more diverse and create an inclusive working environment.
Jessica's experience spans private and non-profit sectors in multiple industries.
Jessica's expertise experience is beyond Diversity & Inclusion, she is also a certified professional IT recruiter in Data & Analytics, Database administration, Artificial Intelligence area.