Occupational prestige refers to the admiration and respect that a particular occupation holds in a society. It is a way for sociologists to rank the relative social status people have. This post examines whether occupational prestige has a real impact on happiness.
The top five most prestigious occupations in 2010 are presented in Figure 1, below. The most prestigious occupation with a prestige score of 80 is physicians and surgeons. The rest of the top five include engineers, judges, post-secondary teachers, military officers, and architects.
|Figure 1. Top 5 Most Prestigious Occupations in 2010|
|Prestige Score 2010||Occupation|
|80||Physicians and Surgeons|
|75||Astronomers and Physicists|
|75||Judges, Magistrates, and Other Judicial Workers|
|73||Electrical and Electronics Engineers|
|73||Military Officer, Special and Tactical Operations Leaders|
|73||Architects, Except Naval|
Figure 2, below, shows the bottom five least prestigious occupations in 2010. At the bottom of the prestige list, with a score of 16, is parking lot attendants and dining room attendants and bartender helpers. The rest of the list includes food preparation workers, telemarketers, street vendors, etc.
|Figure 2. Bottom 5 Least Prestigious Occupations in 2010|
|Prestige Score 2010||Occupation|
|21||Food Preparation Workers|
|21|| Door-to-door sales workers, news and street|
vendors, and related workers
|21||Cleaning, washing, and metal pickling|
equipment operators and tenders
|21|| Combined food preparation and serving|
workers, including fast food
|18|| Miscellaneous entertainment attendants and|
|18||Personal care and service workers, all other|
|17||Entertainers and performers, sports and related|
workers, all other
|17||Office and administrative support workers, all|
|16|| Dining room and cafeteria attendants and|
|16||Parking lot attendants|
To find out whether occupational prestige increases happiness, I rely on the data from the General Social Survey (GSS). I create an indicator variable to measure happiness–I give a person a 1 if he or she is “very happy” or “pretty happy” and I give a person a 0 if he or she is “not too happy.” I then run a logistic regression of the happiness indicator on the prestige score and I find that the odds-ratio is approximately 1.02. This odds-ratio is significant, but very close to 1, which means that there is little-to-no association between happiness and prestige.
I assign a happiness score to occupations to look for the happiest occupations and the least happy occupations. The score is between 0 and 1 and is simply the mean of the happiness indicator for each occupation. There are a lot of occupations that shared the top spot with a happiness score of 1. However, just to spotlight some of the occupations that are most surprising–Morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors; Podiatrists; and Gaming managers–all had a happiness score of 1. Among the least happy occupations–those with a happiness score of 0–include: Bridge and Lock Tenders; and Transit and Railroad Police.
This post tries to get at the link between status, or occupational prestige, and happiness. I find that there is a tenuous link between the two. The regression results indicate that there is little-to-no association between happiness and status. Furthermore, it is surprising which occupations show up on the happiest list.