Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Aug 14th 2009 at 9:30am UTC

This Is Your Occupation on Drugs

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.

6 Responses to “This Is Your Occupation on Drugs”

  1. Hugh Meade, artifactor Says:

    I think that many “creative” types also tend to experience greater incidences of various types of mental illness ( this has been borne out by several recent studies and also by anecdotal evidence for centuries).

    I believe it is a mistake to think that marijuana itself is a generator of creativity. I think it is much more likely that the creative class may use this drug to “self-medicate” for relief from the depression or anxiety they may also feel, and which stifles the urge to be creative and also(more importantly) productive.

    This is not to say that many of them don’t also use it “recreationally”, or as a stimulant for creativity. But the creativity itself is a product of an individual mind, not a drug.

  2. Rockfish Says:

    Just to clarify one point, there are NO cases in which lawyers and architects make similar amounts of money!!

  3. Higher and Higher Says:

    [...] We should, however, note that the data are on a US state level. [...]

  4. Mike Soron » Drug use and occupation Says:

    [...] Florida shows interesting an relationship between drug use and job type: Occupations sort relatively neatly along the lines of marijuana versus cocaine use. The short of [...]

  5. Creative Class » Blog Archive » This is Your Stateâ Says:

    [...] class communitiesWho’s YOUR City?Creative ClassThe source on how we live, work and play« This Is Your Occupation on Drugsby Richard FloridaSat Aug 15th 2009 at 9:30am EDTThis is Your State’s Personality on Drugs [...]

  6. cnett Says:

    Although this has been a very interesting investigation and a few points may have identified a trend (nothing new), there really isn’t much there.

    Each point that you have brought up could be argued with many points that are much more defined and researched.

    -Availability of drugs by location
    -State laws of drugs(ie medical marijuana laws)
    -Proximity of location to borders (availability, trafficking)
    -Religion and social aspects
    -Local moral and value systems
    -Levels of depression and anxiety
    -Environment (days of sun, rain, temperature)
    -Social culture (nightlife)

    This is just to name a few. Each one of these points above, could overlap and even explain each trend you may have identified associating drug use and the Creative Class.

    This is an interesting-mmmmmhhhh, but I don’t think there is anything here. My first bullet above; availability of drugs by location, could explain everything away.