Serene Queries

Determining social classes

Jun 24, 2019

Which questions should be included in a questionnaire to determine the social class of the interviewees in a given country?

Experts Response

Jun 24, 2019

ESOMAR developed a Standard Demographic Classification report that was published in 1997 and covered 12 EU states. A regional classification system has also been developed for Latin-America in 2003 by TGI.

Please note that these systems were developed more than ten years ago and this means that the consumer durables would need to be updated and the system needs to be revised depending on the market being investigated.

The ESOMAR report describes the standard form of demographic classification which may be applied to international surveys to ensure that results were directly comparable from one country to the other. The system, designed for pan-European studies, could potentially be applied in other parts of the world, either as a standard or in a modified form. The questionnaire used at the time can also be found in this report. Please get in touch with ESOMAR to receive a copy.

The sub-variables on which the social grade is based:
- the occupation of the main income earner (MIE)
- the terminal education age of the main income earner
- the economic status of the household defined according to ownership of ten consumer durables (this is for non-active MIEs)

An attempt to develop a truly global system of socio-economic classification showed that there are many differences between the different regions in the world and harmonisation of these sub-variables was not possible.

A global classification system was developed by TGI which is based on individual class, rather than household class, by looking at individual spending power and based primarily on consumption variables.

A national or regional association may be able to help you with questionnaires for local economic classification. You can use this associations finder to find their contact details.