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How to Measure 'What People Do For a Living' in Research on the Socioeconomic Correlates of Health

Do good jobs or occupations result in better physical and mental health? Having a particular occupation - such as dishwasher, legal secretary, X-ray technician, or high school teacher - determines a host of conditions that in turn could affect one's health. Such conditions include stress, exposure to hazardous materials, physical exertion, wages, prestige, and intellectual engagement. Thus, a crucial question concerns how to develop measures of occupations that capture the complex conditions that are relevant to health. For example, does a simple classification of occupations into "white collar" and "blue collar" jobs capture the relevant dimensions of occupations that affect health outcomes? This project asks how conclusions about the impact of occupation on health are affected by the way in which occupation is measured and operationalized in empirical analyses.