Definition of Socioeconomic Factors

by Marc Chase

Socioeconomic factors are the social and economic experiences and realities that help mold one's personality, attitudes, and lifestyle. The factors can also define regions and neighborhoods. Law-enforcement agencies throughout the country, for example, often cite the socioeconomic factor of poverty as being related to areas with high crime rates.

Education

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Among socioeconomic factors is education. One's level of education can shape how he or she views the world and can contribute to social growth. It can lead to increased earning capacity, which in turn can contribute to quality-of-life issues. Education also can contribute to decision-making processes that alter the paths people take in life.

Income and Occupation

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One's income and corresponding occupation are factors that can contribute to socioeconomic status. An career in medicine, for example, places a person in a higher income bracket, while also making that same person part of a social class of doctors, nurses and other medical-profession peers. In society, we often are judged by what we do and what we earn. When getting to know someone, the question of what we do for a living often is among the first addressed.

Place of Residence

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From the type of house we live in to the region and neighborhood in which we reside, place of residence is another leading socioeconomic factor. For better or worse, neighborhoods often group us socially among people with similar incomes and often similar backgrounds. For instance, at points in history, entire neighborhoods have been established around factories or mills for purposes of housing employees. The city of Gary, Indiana, for example, rose to prosperity around the steel mills on the shores of Lake Michigan. And when the steel industry began to take a turn for the worse in the late 1970s and early '80s, the neighborhood structures of Gary began to crumble, and poverty and crime set in.

Culture/Ethnicity

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Culture and/or ethnicity also are socioeconomic factors that can contribute to our thoughts and attitudes. Both can have an impact on how people are raised, their core values, and their sense of family and tradition. The history of one's ethnicity, special holidays, and cultural beliefs are all things that can be passed down between generations and shape individual identities.

Religion

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Often closely tied to culture is the socioeconomic factor of religion. Whole social networks are built around churches, temples and mosques. From church barbecues and softball games to overseas missionaries and outreach groups, religion plays an important social role in the lives of many.

References

About the Author

Marc Chase is a veteran investigative newspaper reporter and editor of 12 years. Specializing in computer-assisted reporting, he holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Southern Illinois University and a Master of Arts in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois.

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