The concept “socio-economic status of a family” (SES): A review of international research



The paper describes the main approaches to measuring socio-economic status, prevailing in the English-language sociological and psychological literature. We consider the concepts "well-being" and "quality of life" that are close to the socio-economic status, their psychological meaning and approaches to their operationalization. We provide a brief historical overview of trends in the organization of SES research in the field of developmental psychology and related problems. We analyze two research strategies: the use of a single index and of individual demographic and economic variables. We describe a model of family experiencing economic stress, which is widely used to study the life of modern families with children, whose living conditions declined during the economic recession. We report data on the impact of economic stress on the parent-child relationship, the self-image and academic performance in children and adolescents. The conclusion is the need to address the interdisciplinary nature of the SES as part of psychological research and at the same time to find the ways of switching from objective to subjective measurement of SES.

General Information

Keywords: socio-economic status, psychosocial well-being, quality of life, parent-child relationship, model of family experiencing economic stress.

Journal rubric: Family Psychology

Article type: scientific article

For citation: Shvedovskaya A.A., Zagvozdkina T.Y. The concept “socio-economic status of a family” (SES): A review of international research. Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie = Psychological Science and Education, 2013. Vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 65–76. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Anna A. Shvedovskaya, PhD in Psychology, Head of Department of Information & Publishing Projects, Associate Professor, Age Psychology Department named after L.F. Obukhova, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Tatyana Y. Zagvozdkina, PhD in Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, e-mail:



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