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Open Access Research article

Concordance of sibling's recall of measures of childhood socioeconomic position

Michael M Ward

Author Affiliations

Intramural Research Program, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

BMC Medical Research Methodology 2011, 11:147  doi:10.1186/1471-2288-11-147

Published: 1 November 2011



Studies of socioeconomic determinants of health often rely on recalled information on childhood socioeconomic position, despite limited evidence of the validity of this information. This study examined concordance between siblings of recalled measures of childhood socioeconomic position.


This cross-sectional study examined reports by 1280 adult sibling pairs in the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States of seven measures of childhood socioeconomic position: father's occupation (in 9 categories), father having a professional occupation, father being a supervisor at work, father's education level, mother's education level, receipt of welfare payments, and subjective appraisal of being better or worse off financially than others.


Concordance was high for father's professional occupation (0.97; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.96, 0.98), father's occupation in 9 categories (0.76; 95% CI 0.73, 0.80), and receipt of welfare payments (0.95; 95% CI 0.93, 0.97). Concordance was lower for father's and mother's education level, and lowest for subjective appraisal of socioeconomic position (0.60; 95% CI 0.57, 0.64). Concordance of parental education was lower for sibling pairs with high school educations or less.


Concordance of recalled measures of childhood socioeconomic position by siblings is generally but not uniformly high.

Education; Occupational groups; Childhood socioeconomic position