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Review Article

Socioeconomic status scales

Revised Kuppuswamy, BG Prasad, and Udai Pareekh’s scale updated for 2021

Majumder, Suranjan

Author Information
Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care: November 2021 - Volume 10 - Issue 11 - p 3964-3967
doi: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_600_21
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Socioeconomic status (SES) is an essential measure to assess an individual’s well-being. The socioeconomic condition is variably decided by the individual’s health-related quality of life and physiological well-being. The SES is essential to maintain health, health-seeking behavior, social class, and participation in socio-political and socio-cultural organizations.[12] In the academic area of social science and humanities, SES has played a crucial role in correlating the relation between SES with other associated phenomena. Individual or family income, educational level, quality of life, and other related aspects are strongly related to a sustainable livelihood.[234]

Various scholars and experts made several attempts to make a universal measure of SES for rural, urban, and semi-urban areas. The popular and well-accepted SES scale includes the Rahudkar scale 1960; BG Prasad scale 1961; Udai Pareek scale 1964; Jalota scale 1970, Kulshrestha scale 1972; Kuppuswamy scale 1976; and Bharadwaj scale 2001.

The Kuppuswamy scale and BG Prasad scale are living measures to assess socioeconomic condition. Both the scales are regularly revised as per the Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers (CPI-IW). The month-wise CPI-IW value was compiled and released by the Labour Bureau under the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India.[56] The present study attempts to revise the income range of the Kuppuswamy and BG Prasad SES scales as per the CPI-IW for January 2021. However, the Udai Pareek scale has not comprised any income indicator.

Data and Methods

The CPI-IW value of January 2021 is collected from the Labor Bureau’s website, Government of India. The revised income range of the Kuppuswamy and BG Prasad SES scales is calculated using a simple online calculator exclusively dedicated for this purpose.[78]

Results and Discussion

The Kuppuswamy scale [Tables 1 and 2] was prepared in 1976 which included three broad domains of SES, i.e. occupation, total family income, and education. Simply, the scale was modified from time to time due to the changing nature of per capita income. Initially (1976), the monthly income was initiated from 100 rupees (minimum) and 2,000 rupees (maximum). However, the range was not applicable in the present context. The BG Prasad scale [Table 3] comprises the income aspects that need to revise regularly. The Udai Pareek scale is a well-accepted measure of SES that included nine domains of SES, i.e. Caste, Occupation, House, Land, Education, Social Participation, Farm Power, Material Possessions, and Family Member [Tables 4 and 5]. The scale exempted the income criteria.

Table 1:
Revised Kuppuswamy socioeconomic status scale (updated for January 2021)
Table 2:
Revised Kuppuswamy socioeconomic status class classification, 2021
Table 3:
Revised BG Prasad socioeconomic status scale (updated for January 2021)
Table 4:
Revised Udai Pareek socioeconomic status scale
Table 5:
Revised Udai Pareek socioeconomic status class

All three scales are widely used and implemented by the social scientists and researchers involved in assessing the livelihood status, health, and quality of life. The scales help the researchers to classify the individual or families on different socioeconomic strata. They help to build relational studies and model building.

However, all three scales have a few limitations. The Kuppuswamy scale and BG Prasad scale are based on family income, which does not differentiate between joint and nuclear families.[9] Generally, the joint families have more income due to the greater number of earning members and diversified income sources (Shaikh and Pathak, 2017). Simultaneously, the Udai Pareek scale does not have any income domain that is crucial to maintain the SES. The scale’s income range was revised as per the CPI-IW, but it does not consider the CPI-AL. The scale is not well applicable in both rural and urban contexts. The Kuppuswamy scale is relevant to the urban and semi-urban areas. In contrast, the BG Prasad scale is applicable to the rural and urban areas, but it only considers income and exempted the other SES criteria.

Implications of SES Scale in Primary Care

The SES has a two-way relation in the access of healthcare facilities and maintenance of the quality of life. Several authors examine the interaction of the SES with healthcare access, patient behaviors, and access to universal health coverage.[10111213] The work of Olah et al. (2013)[10] shows that the availability of primary healthcare facilities significantly discriminates against the different socioeconomic backgrounds. The study revealed that lower socioeconomic background has limited the attainment of physicians which predominantly hampers the right to access primary care.[11] Low SES does not strongly decide the access to primary care and meeting with trained physicians.[11] However, these groups were deprived of access to avail specialists.[11]

In the above context, these specialized modified SES scales (namely Kuppuswamy scale, Udai Pareek scale, and BG Prasad scale) critically identify the different groups of people based on the socioeconomic attributes. They help to standardize the procedure of delineation of the different households into different SES classes. Likewise, these scales provide a wider scope to conduct comparative studies between different socioeconomic attributes with the relevant attributes of primary health research. The scales may provide effective results that help in the formation of healthcare policies, as per the needs of the different target groups. Also, these scales comprised different social and economic attributes in one platform which minimizes the ambiguity and enhances the deliberations of the development of necessary primary healthcare indicators.

Key Points

The people’s responses toward the prolonged practices of healthcare access are an essential component to the socioeconomic status. It is vital to delineate the social groups as per the requirement of the public health research that can easily formulate the behavioral pattern about the necessities of the access of healthcare physicians. Essentially, a standardized SES framework helps to categorize peoples/households’ backgrounds as per their social and economic characteristics. Further, access to universal health care facilities also affects the SES which is needed to address by policymakers as well as academicians.

SES is a characteristic to define the consumption and expenditure pattern of individuals and families. It is a crucial measure to identify the position of the individual in a society. The above-mentioned three scales are beneficial to determine the SES, but all have some limitations. To regularly revise the income range is essential, which helps to apply the scales to measure the current state of social status.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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BG Prasad scale; Kuppuswamy scale; Socioeconomic status

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