Background: Many epidemiological studies require a measure of socioeconomic position. The monetary measure preferred by economists is consumption expenditure; the wealth index has been proposed as a reliable, simple alternative to expenditure and is extensively used.
Methods: A systematic review was conducted of the agreement between wealth indices and consumption expenditure, summarising the agreement and exploring factors affecting agreement.
Results: Seventeen studies using 36 datasets met the inclusion criteria. Of these, 22 demonstrated weak agreement, 10 moderate agreement, and four strong agreement. There was some evidence that agreement is higher: in middle-income settings; in urban areas; for wealth indices with a greater number of indicators; and for wealth indices including a wider range of indicators.
Conclusions: The wealth index is mostly a poor proxy for consumption expenditure.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
Appendix available online only at http://jech.bmj.com/content/vol63/issue11
Funding LH was supported by an Economic & Social Research Council/Medical Research Council Interdisciplinary PhD Studentship; JH is supported by an Economic & Social Research Council/Medical Research Council Post-doctoral Fellowship.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.