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The use of parental occupation in adolescent health surveys. An application of ISCO-based measures of occupational status
  1. Timo-Kolja Pförtner1,
  2. Sebastian Günther1,
  3. Kate A Levin2,
  4. Torbjørn Torsheim3,
  5. Matthias Richter1
  1. 1Institute of Medical Sociology, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Germany
  2. 2NHSGGC, Public Health Directorate, West House, Gartnavel Royal Hospital, Glasgow, UK
  3. 3Department of Psychosocial Science, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Dr Timo-Kolja Pfoertner, Institute of Medical Sociology (IMS), Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Magdeburger Str. 8, Halle (Saale) 06112, Germany; timo-kolja.pfoertner{at}


Background Recent research has emphasised that the challenge in researching socioeconomic differences in adolescent health cross-nationally lies in providing valid and comparable measures of socioeconomic position (SEP) across regions. This study aims to examine measures of occupational status derived from the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO), alongside commonly used affluence measures in association with adolescent self-rated health (SRH).

Methods Data were from the 2005/2006 ‘Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study’ (HBSC); 27 649 individuals aged 11, 13 and 15 years from Germany, Macedonia, Norway, Turkey, Wales and Scotland. Three occupational scales were compared: the International Socioeconomic Index of Occupational Status (ISEI), the Standard International Occupational Prestige Scale (SIOPS) and the Erikson–Goldthorpe–Portocarero class categories (EGP). Correlation analyses compared these occupational scales with the family affluence scale (FAS) and a family well-off measure, while logistic regression assessed the association between occupational scales and poor SRH. Multiple imputation techniques investigated possible bias arising from parental occupation missingness.

Results Moderate correlations existed between occupational scales and FAS and family well-off. Socioeconomic inequalities in poor SRH were found for ISEI, SIOPS and EGP in all regions, independent of FAS and family well-off. Models of imputed data sets did not alter the results. The relationship between SEP and SRH was therefore not biased by high levels of missing values for ISCO.

Conclusions ISCO-based indicators of occupational status in cross-national self-administered adolescent health surveys were found to be robust measures of SEP in adolescence. These measure different aspects of SEP independent of FAS and family well-off.

  • Health inequalities

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