We previously developed and validated an index of socioeconomic status (SES) termed HOUSES (housing-based index of socioeconomic status) based on real property data. In this study, we assessed whether HOUSES overcomes the absence of SES measures in medical records and is associated with risk of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) in children. We conducted a population-based case-control study of children in Olmsted County, MN, diagnosed with IPD (1995–2005). Each case was age- and gender-matched to two controls. HOUSES was derived using a previously reported algorithm from publicly available housing attributes (the higher HOUSES, the higher the SES). HOUSES was available for 92·3% (n = 97) and maternal education level for 43% (n = 45). HOUSES was inversely associated with risk of IPD in unmatched analysis [odds ratio (OR) 0·22, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0·05–0·89, P = 0·034], whereas maternal education was not (OR 0·77, 95% CI 0·50–1·19, P = 0·24). HOUSES may be useful for overcoming a paucity of conventional SES measures in commonly used datasets in epidemiological research.