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List of socio-economic factors

Updated February 21, 2017

Socio-economic factors are lifestyle components and measurements of both financial viability and social standing. They directly influence social privilege and levels of financial independence. Factors such as health status, income, environment and education are studied by sociologists in terms of how they each affect human behaviours and circumstances. As lifestyle measurements, they are believed to be directly correlated to patterns of drug use, food choices, migration, disease prevalence and rates of mortality in human populations.

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In the most obvious way, educational levels influence economic status, as higher paying jobs tend to require advanced or specialised education. Education, however, also determines social status and allows people to trust those who are educated in their fields of employment. Car mechanics may not be generally considered to be as smart as attorneys, but when a car needs repair, a consumer respects a mechanic's expertise to fix the problem. Trained health care professionals are able to influence the eating and exercise behaviours of entire communities through public campaigns. If they were not held in high social regard, this would not be possible.


Net income is a direct contributor to what a single person or family can afford to spend. Income determines neighbourhood choices and living conditions. It is often the deciding factor in higher educational pursuits. People living closer to the poverty line may forego one necessity for another, such as medicine for food or doctor visit co-pays for utility bills. Others with income to spare may spend or save money to contribute to lifestyle freedoms such as travel, early retirement accounts and various luxury items.


Health status is a definite measurement of socio-economic status. Poor health, whether brought on by genetic predispositions, accidents or lifestyle choices, is able to render a person stagnant. Illness can hinder progress in terms of education and employment options. Health status affects mobility and the ability to socialise, thereby restricting the social circle of a lot of sick people. Certain conditions require constant monitoring by health care professionals and a medication-dependent lifestyle, which can be very costly. Disabled persons are often limited financially by a defined social security income, just like elderly people.


Environment does not have to determine socio-economic status, but is often a reflection of it. An adult may choose to live in a lower income neighbourhood to save money on rent. The same person may also choose to socialise with workmates instead of neighbours. In this instance, living environment is not a factor in personal socio-economy. However, children born and raised in the same environment may be socially restricted, as they may be forced to attend state school in an area zoned for their home address. Likewise, ingrained social behaviours in higher income communities are often reflected in the adolescent population. It is difficult for researchers to determine if observed group behaviours are attributable to income status or social environments.

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About the Author

Sarah McLeod began writing professionally for the federal government In 1999. In 2002 she was trained by Georgetown University's Oncology Chief to abstract medical records and has since contributed to Phase I through Phase IV research around the country. McLeod holds a Bachelor of Arts in human services from George Washington University and a Master of Science in health science from Touro University.

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