Toxic Careers, Declining Industries, and Strained Marriages
Pre-COVID Research from 2015 reminds us that career choices have a significant impact on our marital satisfaction.
In 2015, statistician Nathan Yau of the data site Flowing Data analyzed divorce statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey.
Among other things, Yau was able to rank order and correlate careers from the lowest divorce to the highest divorce rate.
This data takes on new meaning in the context of our current struggle with COVID Stress.
I’ve been thinking more about COVID Stress, and many of my clients are bringing work-life balance issues into their couples therapy more than ever before.
Understanding the science behind COVID Stress, and the divorce rate of occupations requires some sort of a pre-COVID baseline. Fortunately, several studies in 2015 researched the divorce rates of various occupations.
Yau’s Research Was Pre-COVID, And He Uncovered 2 Particularly Significant Marital Stressors:
- Declining Industries. We should think broadly about this in our current predicament. A vast swath of industries might be in a COVID-induced decline.
- Low Wage Work. Security guards, food service workers, etc. External stressors significantly impact relationships. Being poor is enormous stress in and of itself…and is only more so during COVID.
The notion of toxic careers also attracted the attention of Monster.com. Here’s how they ranked the divorce rate of occupations in 2015:
Divorce Rate and Occupations…the Marriage-Friendly Careers
- Actuaries 17%… Perhaps more than anyone, they understand the cost of being in a bad marriage?
- Physical scientists 18.9%
- Medical scientists and life scientist 19.6%
- Clergy 19.8%
- Software developers 20.3%
- Physical therapists 20.7%
- Optometrists 20.8%
- Chemical engineers 21.1%
- Religious and education directors 21.3%
- Physicians and surgeons 21.8%
- Biomedical and agricultural engineers 22%
- Podiatrists 22.4%
- Dentists 22.5%
- Pharmacists 22.6%
- Military enlisted tactical operations and air/weapons specialists and crew members 23%
- Speech-language pathologists 23.2%
- Natural science managers 23.7%
- Biological scientists 23.7%
- Veterinarians 23.9%
- Agricultural products graders and sorters 24%
Divorce Rate and Occupations…the Marriage-Stressing Careers
- Gaming managers 52.9%
- Bartenders 52.7%
- Flight attendants 50.5%
- Gaming service workers 50.3%
- Rolling machine setters, operators, and tenders 50.1%
- Switchboard operators 49.7%
- Extruding and drawing machine setters, operators, and tenders 49.6%
- Telemarketers 49.2%
- Textile knitting and weaving machine operators and tenders 48.9%
- Extruding, forming, pressing, and compacting machine setters, operators, and tenders 48.8%
- Telephone operators 47.8%
- Massage therapists 47.8%
- Gaming cage workers 47.3%
- Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses 47%
- First-line supervisors of correctional officers 46.9%
- Dancers and choreographers 46.8%
- Dispatchers 46.6%
- Textile machine operators 46.5%
- Ambulance drivers and attendants 46.3%
- Small engine mechanics 46.2%
And Everything In-Between…
- Architecture and engineering 27.5%
- Computers and mathematics 27.6%
- Military 28.3%
- Life, physical, and social science 28.5%
- Education and library 30.1%
- Health care 31.6%
- Community and social services 32.5%
- Farming, fishing, and forestry 33.0%
- Finance 33.9%
- Legal 35%
- Arts and entertainment 35.2%
- Management 35.7%
- Business operations 36%
- Construction and extraction 36.5%
- Extraction 37.3%
- Food preparation and serving 37.4%
- Building and grounds cleaning 37.8%
- Sales 38.2%
- Production 38.9%
- Health care support 39.2%
- Installation, maintenance, and repair workers 39.3%
- Personal care and service 39.6%
- Protective services 40%
- Transportation 40.5%
- Office and administrative support 40.6%
The Special Case of Physicians in a Time of COVID…and the Dawn of “Big Data”
It’s a popular cultural trope that the demands of being a physician often leads to marital problems. Doctors probably have higher divorce rates, right?
“If you talk to physicians, there seems to be this conception or notion that doctors are more likely to be divorced, not only more than other health-care professionals but the population at large,” said the study’s lead author, Anupam Jena, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Anupam B. Jena, MD, Ph.D., is both an economist and a physician. He is currently the Ruth L. Newhouse Associate Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, and he also is a physician in the Department of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Jena is also a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Jena’s ground-breaking “Big Data” research correlating the American divorce rate and occupations was published in the online journal BMJ. Jena’s team also meticulously analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data. They learned that, in 2015, physicians had a particularly low rate of divorce. Doctors (24%) were less likely to divorce than their bosses (health-care executives, 31%).. and even nurses, (33%).