7 Socioeconomic Index Scores
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Appendix A-E

This Chapter:

Family Status
Home Own
Index Scores

Socioeconomic Index Scores.  Socioeconomic index scores reflecting the education, income, and prestige associated with different occupations were computed from responses to DoD and CPS surveys.  We used an index developed by Hauser and Warren,(29) based on occupational prestige ratings obtained in 1989,(30) and characteristics of the workforce measured in the 1990 Census.  Although separate indices exist for males and females, we used the Total Socioeconomic Index (TSEI), following the recommendations of the index developers.  The 1990 Census made several changes in the occupational codes that are reflected in the reported scores.

 The occupational data in Table 7.5 show that DoD parents were underrepresented in certain high-prestige occupational categories, such as executive and professional occupations.  Socioeconomic index scores summarize the differences in prestige between occupations, as assessed by the education required and the earnings provided.  Each occupational category includes a variety of jobs with different levels of prestige.  The socioeconomic indices are based on individual occupations, so that a certain range of index values includes occupations of similar prestige across different occupational areas.

 The TSEI scores ranged from 7 to 81 for both DoD and CPS fathers.  Figure 7.1 shows the distribution of TSEI scores for active duty, Reserve Component, and CPS fathers.  Both Active and Reserve Component fathers were overrepresented  in three of  the lowest four TSEI categories.  Furthermore, DoD fathers were underrepresented in nine of the highest 10 categories

Figure 7.1 .  TSEI distribution for DoD and CPS fathers with DoD representation ratio.

The highest four categories represent only 4 percent of the CPS population and 1 percent of the DoD population.

 The lines in Figure 7.1 are the active duty and Reserve representation ratios for the TSEI ranges.  That is, each line shows the ratio of the percentage of DoD fathers (either active duty or Reserve Component) in the range to the percentage of CPS fathers in the range.  A representation ratio of greater than 1.0 for any TSEI category indicates a greater proportion of DoD parents in the category, compared to CPS parents, while a ratio of less than 1.0 indicates fewer DoD parents in the category, compared to CPS parents.  The magnitude of the representation ratio indicates the extent to which the DoD and CPS distributions differ.

 The representation ratios for active duty and Reserve Component fathers were nearly identical; consequently, they will be described together.  DoD fathers were underrepresented in the lowest two TSEI categories.  This range of scores includes low-status service occupations, as well as some machine operators.  The range of TSEI scores from 21 to 50 included over three quarters of the CPS fathers and 86 percent of DoD fathers.  This difference produces a representation ratio of 1.1, indicating a slightly larger proportion of DoD fathers than CPS fathers in this range.  For TSEI scores between 51 and 75, DoD representation decreased.  It averages 0.69 over the range, which encompasses 9 percent of DoD fathers and 14 percent of CPS fathers.  DoD representation was lowest for the two highest TSEI categories; one percent of DoD fathers and 3 percent of CPS fathers were included in these categories.  Thus, enlisted accessions tend to have fathers with occupations that come from families in the middle of the TSEI distribution, with both the high and low extremes underrepresented.

 Mothers' TSEI scores ranged from 7 to 81 for both DoD and CPS mothers.  As was the case with fathers, the TSEI distribution was nearly identical for Active and Reserve Components.  As shown in Figure 7.2, the pattern of results for mothers is similar to the pattern for fathers shown in Figure 7.1.  DoD mothers were underrepresented in both the lowest two and highest two TSEI categories, with representation ratios of approximately 0.8 and 0.4, respectively.  The range of TSEI between 21 and 45 included a larger proportion of DoD mothers than CPS mothers (for a representation ratio of 1.1).  Finally, the representation of DoD mothers generally decreased in the range of TSEI scores from 46 to 75, with some exceptions.  Since the Survey of Recruit Socioeconomic Backgrounds excludes officer accessions, it would be expected to understate the status of DoD parents.

 Although both DoD mothers and fathers were underrepresented in high-status occupations, as measured by the TSEI scales, these occupations represent only a small portion of the overall TSEI distribution in the general population.  Figure 7.3 shows the representation of DoD parents from each quartile of the general population.  As the quartiles divide CPS parents into equal fourths with regard to TSEI, DoD parents would also be equally divided among the quartiles if they were represented equally at all levels of TSEI.  However, because a particularly common job among CPS fathers occurred at the boundary between the third and fourth quartile, the third quartile contained approximately 30 percent of the population, while the fourth quartile contained 20 percent.  This anomaly tends to produce a lower representation for DoD fathers in the fourth quartile, and higher representation in the third quartile.

Figure 7.2   TSEI distribution for DoD and CPS mothers with DoD representation ratio

Figure 7.3  DoD TSEI distribution related to CPS distribution quartiles.

Figure 7.3 shows that the fourth quartile of the TSEI distribution was underrepresented among enlisted accessions.  This difference was exaggerated among fathers because of the discontinuity in the CPS distribution described previously.  Otherwise, there were no substantial differences between mothers and fathers or between active duty and Reserve Component accessions.  The deficit in the fourth quartile seems to be evenly distributed among the other three quartiles.  There is no indication that enlisted personnel are drawn primarily from the lowest social strata.

 In summary, enlisted accessions come from all socioeconomic levels.  However, there is a tendency for accessions to come from families in the lower three-quarters of the status distribution.  These differences are expressed in the occupations of the parents of accessions, as well as discrepancies in education and home ownership.  No systematic differences were discovered between active duty and Reserve Component accessions.  Including officer accessions in the analysis would probably increase the representation of higher social strata among military accessions, but would not eliminate differences between DoD and CPS parents.

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  1. Hauser, R.M. and Warren, J.R.  Socioeconomic Indexes for Occupations:  A Review, Update, and Critique (Madison, WI: Center for Demography and Ecology, October 1996).
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  3. Nakao, K. and Treas, J., "Updating Occupational Prestige and Socioeconomic Scores: How the New Measures Measure Up," in P. Marsden (Ed.), Sociological Methodology, 1994 (Washington, DC: American Sociological Association, 1994), pp. 1-72.
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