This Is Your Occupation on Drugs

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Yesterday, we looked at the relationship between drug use and class. We found that drug use was significantly associated with the percentage of the creative class in a state, and negatively so with the percentage of people employed in the working class.

Today, I dig a bit deeper into the relationship between drug use and specific types of professional, knowledge-based, and creative jobs--management, business and finance, architecture and engineering, science, health-care, education, and arts and entertainment. The patterns here are quite interesting.

Occupations sort relatively neatly along the lines of marijuana versus cocaine use. The short of it is that marijuana use is more positively associated with science (.35), education (.38), artistic professions (.35), and engineering and architecture (.29), while cocaine use is positively associated with lawyers (.41) and, to a lesser extent, with business and finance occupations (.27), computer jobs (.25), and management fields (.26).

Drug use overall is significantly associated with the state-wide concentrations of three major types of occupations - science (.35), architecture and engineering (.34), and arts, design, and entertainment (.33). And, in all three cases, this correlation appears to be driven by marijuana use; none of them are significantly associated with cocaine. Management occupations are also positively associated with overall drug use, though the correlation (.26) is somewhat weaker.

Here's what my colleague and collaborator, Cambridge University psychologist Jason Rentfrow, had to say about our results:

I think it's interesting that cocaine is high for finance, law, and quant professions. Although we can't infer whether it's people in those jobs actually doing drugs, those professions are generally regarded as intense and lavish. So it's interesting that an expensive stimulant like cocaine is used more often in places where comparatively large numbers of people work in intense and high-paying jobs... It's also interesting that marijuana is popular in places with artists, designers, and architects because those are jobs that encourage divergent thinking and marijuana is a psychoactive drug that's associated with creativity.

What I think is particularly interesting about the results is that most professions possess elements of income, education, and personality. Even in those cases where lawyers and architects make similar amounts of money, they're very different lines of work and appeal to different types of people.

Correlation coefficient: .41**

Correlation coefficient: .35*

Correlation coefficient: .29*

Correlation coefficient: .32*

Correlation coefficient: .38**

Note: * indicates statistical significance at the .05 level; ** indicates significance at the .01 level.

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Richard Florida is Co-founder and Editor at Large of CityLab.com and Senior Editor at The Atlantic. He is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto and Global Research Professor at NYU. More

Florida is author of The Rise of the Creative ClassWho's Your City?, and The Great Reset. He's also the founder of the Creative Class Group, and a list of his current clients can be found here
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