An Index of Community-Level Socioeconomic Composition for Global Health Research

Shivani A. Patel, Susan G. Sherman, Subarna K. Khatry, Steven C. LeClerq, Joanne Katz, James M. Tielsch, Parul Christian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Despite increasing recognition that community-level socioeconomic factors are critical to individual health outcomes globally, guidance on their measurement remains limited in low and middle income countries. We outline the steps needed to develop and validate a theory-based, multidimensional index of community-level socioeconomic composition using information that is often available in global settings. Census indicators describing human and social capital were analyzed using principal components analysis to construct a community socioeconomic composition index (CSCI) for 30 communities in the Southern plains of Nepal. The index was validated against subsequent child nutrition, household assets, and village infrastructure using data from 1822 children and their households. At the community-level, the CSCI was positively correlated with child height-for-age, and child weight-for-age, household assets, and community infrastructure (r = 0.54, 0.58, 0.85, 0.67, respectively). In multilevel analyses, +1SD of the CSCI was associated with +0.14SD of the household asset index (p < 0.01) after adjusting for confounders. These results suggest that an exclusively census-based strategy to measure socioeconomic composition has construct validity in this setting. This approach to measuring community-level socioeconomic composition may be feasibly reproduced in other resource-constrained settings where census data are available, potentially expanding the scope of place and health research globally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)639-658
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Child nutrition
  • Community socioeconomic composition
  • Index
  • Nepal
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'An Index of Community-Level Socioeconomic Composition for Global Health Research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this