Social planners, epidemiologists, vital statisticians, and others have wrestled with the problem of classifying people according to their place in society. An early method was the United Kingdom's Registrar General's Occupational Classification, which requires an answer to a single question about occupation. This has the virtue of simplicity but has several limitations; for instance, income and living conditions do not necessarily relate closely to it. The scale invented by the American sociologist A. B. Hollingshead requires several questions about income, educational level attained, occupation, and housing conditions (owned or rented home). A similar scale created by the Australian social scientist Alexander Congalton relates residential address to the municipal tax rate of the property as an unobtrusive measure of personal wealth. The aim of all such classifications is to throw light on other variables, such as health-related behavior. It may be best to develop specific questions regarding income, occupation, housing conditions, expenditure on amenities, etc., rather than to use existing survey instruments, if that is the aim of the classification.
Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.