Assessing alternative measures of wealth in health research

Catherine Cubbin, Craig Pollack, Brian Flaherty, Mark Hayward, Ayesha Sania, Donna Vallone, Paula Braveman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objectives. We assessed whether it would be feasible to replace the standard measure of net worth with simpler measures of wealth in population-based studies examining associations between wealth and health. Methods. We used data from the 2004 Survey of Consumer Finances (respondents aged 25-64 years) and the 2004 Health and Retirement Survey (respondents aged 50 years or older) to construct logistic regression models relating wealth to health status and smoking. For our wealth measure, we used the standard measure of net worth as well as 9 simpler measures of wealth, and we compared results among the 10 models. Results. In both data sets and for both health indicators, models using simpler wealth measures generated conclusions about the association between wealth and health that were similar to the conclusions generated by models using net worth. The magnitude and significance of the odds ratios were similar for the covariates in multivariate models, and the model-fit statistics for models using these simpler measures were similar to those for models using net worth. Conclusions. Our findings suggest that simpler measures of wealth may be acceptable in population-based studies of health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)939-947
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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