Interestingly, occupation is in some ways a more comprehensive component of SES in that it can be reflective of both education and income. The government has even come up with the Standard Occupational Classification, a list and classification of job types that can be used to generate job statistics, including impact on health. Certain professions require that one achieve a certain level of education before one can enter that occupation (e.g. doctor, lawyer, dentist). Each of these jobs requires education beyond an undergraduate college degree. And typically with these occupations, the level of income is expected to be a bit higher than jobs that do NOT require a professional degree.
The MacArthur Foundation published an excellent summary on the impact of occupational status and health. They note that occupation is related to health because it can be a gateway that “positions individuals within [a] social structure, which defines access to resources and constraints that can have implications for health and mortality”. Remember that every job has a culture and some cultures dictate what type of house someone should live in, the neighborhood they move to, what car they drive, etc. And we’ve already reviewed how neighborhoods can impact health.
Just as important though is the fact that each job has its own set of demands that impact health. Not that long ago, a national grieved the loss of football great Junior Seau. His untimely death highlighted one of the occupational hazards associated with playing professional football in the NFL, namely head injuries.
All work can induce stress. Yet an interesting article by Waltzman and found that African American and white males with lower occupational status in the U.S. had higher rates of hypertention than whites who remained in professional and technical jobs. (American Journal of Public Health, 2004; 84:945-950). A little food for thought.
~One drop of knowledge can ripple through an entire community