Socio-economic groups are divisions of people by income and occupation. In the study of economics and sociology, a person's income or occupation has been shown to be related to various social trends and values. The major types of socio-economic groups are usually divided in terms of job responsibility as it correlated to income levels. Dividing people into socio-economic groups is usually done to help interpret market forecasting; how a tax cut will affect citizens might be analyzed by breaking the larger population into more manageable groups by income.
Different economic theories may divide socio-economic groups slightly differently, but the general categories include executives, high-level managerial, mid-level managerial, skilled laborers, semi-skilled workers, and irregular workers or those that do not work. Executives and high level managers tend to have the highest incomes, while semi-skilled and unskilled laborers typically have the lowest among those who work regularly.. Another way to describe these divisions may be upper-middle class, middle class, working class, and non-working.
Different socio-economic groups often have certain factors in common that make them useful for market research and analysis. For instance, children of upper-middle class families are generally more likely to attend college than children of unskilled laborers. While this generalization does not mean that children of unskilled laborers cannot or universally do not attend college, this data may be used to help generate scholarship and student loan programs based on financial need in order to help more children from low-income families attend college. Socio-economic groups may be employed for nearly any type of market research, from analyzing the use of contraceptives to the likelihood of cocaine addiction across socioeconomic lines.
The characteristics of each socio-economic group may be different in different nations and cultures. For instance, in a country with a long association between wealth and religion, upper-middle class families might be more likely to participate in religious activities. In general, however, higher income classes typically will have greater access to education, career opportunities, and health care. Part of the reason why socio-economic research is important is that it helps determine the areas of society in which income greatly divides access to basic human necessities, and can help create possible solutions to these discrepancies.
It is a mistake to assume that socio-economic groups hold universal truths, for instance that all non-working people are lazy and content to live off the state, or that all wealthy people are political conservatives. Overgeneralizing socio-economic grouping can easily lead to prejudice and the oversimplification of complex issues. When examining data broken down into these groups, it is important to remember that there are exceptions to every rule, and that no single factor, such as income, can universally determine the characteristics, habits, and personalities of all individuals.