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GeoPoll Blog

Measuring Socioeconomic Status: Applying Living Standard Measurement Questions in Mobile Research

Posted by Njeri Wangari on October 23, 2017

Elderly man on phone.jpgThrough six living standards questions, GeoPoll is able to effectively measure respondents’ socioeconomic status across all mobile surveying modes

Living Standard Measurement (LSM)
GeoPoll asks a series of easy-to-answer living standard measurement questions (LSM) that allow results to be categorized into socioeconomic statuses. GeoPoll uses questions that are based on the 2015 TNS Pan-African Socio-Economic Status (SES) measurement developed by Neil Higgs and Heidi Swanepoel of the TNS South Africa Innovation Team.

How It Works

GeoPoll employs four steps to attribute the LSM to mobile respondents: 

1. Beneficiary Survey: Through a mobile survey, GeoPoll asks respondents a series of household questions of different categories. The SES measurement is done at the household-level and is based off of six questions related to roofing material, source of water, type of shelter, television ownership, electricity access and distance to the nearest post office. These serve as proxy indicators for the standard SES metrics of income, education, and occupation. For example, respondents might answer they have a thatched roof and a single room house, and also have electricity and a television. The responses yielded from these questions enable the development of a socioeconomic profile. GeoPoll chooses to use proxy indicators as some respondents find direct questions about income sensitive, and income is not always the best measurement of overall economic status as it can fluctuate.

2. Conversion into Ranking System: Using the respondents’ answers, GeoPoll converts the results into a quantifiable ranking system.

3. Determination of Score: GeoPoll conducts SES measurement on a scale of 0 to 100, with a score of 0 representing extreme poverty and a score of 100 extreme affluence. Respondents’ affluence is representative of a higher SES score. The SES questionnaire enables researchers to use proxy indicators for socio-economic class based on questions respondents are easily able to confirm.

4. Groupings of Living Standard Measurement (LSM): GeoPoll has developed conversion tables that allow for converting the SES score into LSM rankings, which are numeric socio-economic rankings specific to the country of study. Depending on the needs of the study, the SES score also allows for conversion to Socio-Economic Class (SEC) categories, which are classified as A (extreme affluence); B (affluence); C1 (moderate-high affluence); C2 (moderate-low affluence); D (poverty); and E (extreme poverty). 

Living Standard Measurement Tool in Action

GeoPoll uses the LSM tool via multiple modes of mobile data collection on both social and commercial sector projects. Study topics range from HIV treatment perception, youth political perception, and commercial purchasing habits in countries like Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria. By adding LSM questions to a study, researchers are able to control for and analyze how socioeconomic status relates to other variables of interest. On a recent project, GeoPoll included LSM questions in a survey on citizen perceptions of government services such as health and education so that perceptions could be stratified by SEC group and any differences between groups in perceptions could be explored.

Topics: GeoPoll LSM Tool, LSM in Mobile Research, Living Standard Measure (LSM), Socio-Economic Status (SES)

  

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