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The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for the construction of the family affluence scale: findings from 16 countries

Boer, Maartje, Moreno-Maldonado, Concepción, Dierckens, Maxim, Lenzi, Michela, Currie, Candace, Residori, Caroline, Bosáková, Lucia, Berchialla, Paola, Eida, Tamsyn J., Stevens, Gonneke and others. (2024) The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for the construction of the family affluence scale: findings from 16 countries. Child Indicators Research, 17 (1). pp. 395-418. ISSN 1874-897X. E-ISSN 1874-8988. (doi:10.1007/s12187-023-10082-6) (KAR id:104650)


The Family Affluence Scale (FAS) is a widely used and validated instrument to measure adolescents’ socioeconomic status (SES). It is plausible that the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting social and economic changes have affected the capacity of the six-item FAS-III to measure adolescent SES, particularly the holiday and computer items. Using data from 247,503 adolescents from 16 European countries participating in the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study before (2013/14 and 2017/18) and during (2021/22) the pandemic, the present study aims to fill this gap. Findings showed that although the internal consistency of the scale decreased during the pandemic, related to the functioning of the computer and especially the holiday item, it was still acceptable in all countries. Furthermore, measurement invariance analysis showed that during the pandemic the item thresholds of the computer and particularly the holiday item deviated from the thresholds of these items before the pandemic. However, all item factor loadings were comparable to the factor loadings before the pandemic. In addition, during the pandemic the computer and holiday item and their correlations with health-related outcomes were mostly still in the expected direction. Removing these items from the scale yielded comparable or decreased scale criterion validity as compared to the original FAS-III scale in most countries. These findings inform future research that although mean differences in family affluence levels before and during the pandemic should be interpreted with caution, it is a suitable tool to study (changes in) socioeconomic health inequalities among adolescents during the pandemic.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s12187-023-10082-6
Uncontrolled keywords: family affluence scale; socioeconomic status; validation study; adolescents; COVID-19; health behaviour in school-aged children
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research > Centre for Health Services Studies
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2024 15:14 UTC
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2024 16:03 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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