Jobs Explain Lots

Different people do different things; why? When we look features of individuals to explain their differing individual behavior, there are a few favorites: age, gender, race, income, education, IQ, and personality-type. Some people look at location, such as zipcode or nation. But it seems to me that one’s job (i.e., occupation) is a neglected strong predictor of many interesting things. For example:

  • A few days ago I blogged on a recent study of how jobs predict the chances of divorce. Job risk-ratios range over about a factor of two, after controlling for age, gender, race, and income.
  • I start my health econ class with this ’99 study of how jobs predict death rates. Job risk-ratios range over about a factor of two, after controlling for age, gender, race, income, and education. (Key chart below the fold.)
  • A February analysis found occupation strongly predicts the direction of political contributions, and an ’07 study said academic discipline strongly predicts professor political affiliation. This page of aneqdotes suggests that jobs often predict political affiliations well.

More generally, I’d love to see a factor analysis seeking the few strongest job factors that can simultaneously predict variations in divorce, mortality, political affiliation, and whatever else interesting one can throw into the mix. Seems like a great project for a data-oriented grad student.OK, here’s how death rates vary with jobs:

JobDeath

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  • JKLC

    This is probably due more to the fact that the jobs themselves attract certain similar personalities of people. I bet if you were to do studies based on personality, you would get similar results.

  • http://www.chiliahedron.com Relsqui

    That’s the point, JKLC–it’s a lot easier to quantify occupations than personalities.

  • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

    We know personality predicts political leanings rather weakly, too weakly in fact to explain the strong relation between politics and jobs.

    • Nick Tarleton

      We know that the personality factors we measure predict political leanings weakly, but it seems very likely that there are other factors influencing both that we don’t measure.

  • Jeffrey Soreff

    “I start my health econ class with this ‘99 study of how jobs predict death rates. Job risk-ratios range over about a factor of two, after controlling for age, gender, race, income, and education.”

    I’d think that controlling for income might remove part of a death rate
    ratio that is indeed part of the job risk. If a company values its people’s
    survival at an amount which correlates with the wages it pays them,
    then this should affect its expenditures on safety measures for each
    job type, which can affect the death rate from on-the-job accidents.

  • Robbie

    How come very few of the jobs are low risk?
    Looking are the ones with relative risk less than 1 none seem popular enough to make up for the number of professions with a relative risk higher than 1.

  • http://www.phoenixism.net An Unmarried Man

    That’s the point, JKLC–it’s a lot easier to quantify occupations than personalities.

    I would like to see concurrent stats describing the strength/degree of one’s choice in selecting his ultimate career.

    “Everyone wanted me to be a doctor…”
    “I chose to become a wood worker against the best wishes of my family…”

    The degree to which we steer our own life dictates our health, I said.

  • http://www.econthoughts.com Trevor F

    In addition to income, I’d bet activity level is heavily correlated with survival. One equivalently paid job where you spend a lot of time sitting in a chair vs another where you’re on your feet all day (perhaps engineering science teacher vs lawyer, for example) could have a lot to do with it.

  • Troy Camplin

    I have a B.A. in recombinant gene technology, a M.A. in English, a Ph.D. in the humanities.

    Anyone want to guess as to 1) my job, 2) my political affiliations, 3) my marital status?

    No cheating!

  • Nanonymous

    @Troy Camplin: OK, I’ll bite.

    I think that someone with these credentials is likely to be non-married science writer/journalist leaning heavily Left.

  • http://zatavu.blogspot.com Troy Camplin

    Nanonymous,

    You could not be farther from the truth. :-)

    I’m a married (with 2 kids) hotel night auditor classical liberal/libertarian.

    Naturally, I would like to make a change in the job department.

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