Protocol - Occupational Prestige

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This protocol includes two self-administered questions from the American Community Survey (ACS) that capture the respondent’s type of work and most important activities. The respective occupational prestige scores can then be derived from the General Social Survey Codebook Appendix F: Occupational Classification Distributions. Prestige scores are based on a consensus-perceived worthiness and range from 0 to 100, with 0 being the lowest and 100 being the highest.

Specific Instructions





Employment Questions from the American Community Survey

For employed people, the data refer to the persons job during the previous week. For those who worked two or more jobs, the data refer to the job where the person worked the greatest number of hours. For unemployed people and people who are not currently employed but report having a job within the last five years, the data refer to their last job.

1. What was this persons main occupation?

(For example: 4th grade teacher, entry-level plumber) (Fill-in-the-blank field)

2. Describe this persons most important activities or duties. (For example: instruct and evaluate students and create lesson plans, assemble and install pipe sections and review building plans for work details) (Fill-in-the-blank field)

Prestige Scores from the General Social Survey

In the OCCUPATIONAL CLASSIFICATION DISTRIBUTIONS codebook, the U.S. Census Bureau assigned a three-digit number code to each occupational title. These codes appear under the column headed "Punch, Occupation". Match the user response to the job title. The respective occupational ‘Prestige Score can be found in the same row (e.g. Accountants have a prestige score of 57).

Access to the code book can be found here:


Personnel and Training Required


Equipment Needs

Access to a desktop/laptop computer with internet access to download raw data from the U.S. Census Bureaus Explore Census Data website (https://data.census.gov/). Statistical Packages (e.g., SPSS, SAS) for data manipulation.

Requirement CategoryRequired
Major equipment No
Specialized training No
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collection No
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individual No
Mode of Administration



Adult, Senior


Participant is to be 18 years or older

Selection Rationale

The ACS is an ongoing survey by the U.S. Census Bureau. It regularly gathers information previously contained only in the long form of the decennial census.

The ACS asks about the work a person was doing and that persons most important duties at that job to produce industry and occupation statistics.

These statistics are used to understand more about the labor force; to plan and measure education, employment, career development and job training programs; and to measure compliance with antidiscrimination policies.

The occupation scores from the General Social Survey were developed using a sample that is representative of the U.S. population and can therefore provide an unbiased prestige estimate.

The Occupational Classification Distributions includes three 5-digit occupational classifications. In the first classification, the first three digits are the 1970 U.S. census occupational codes, and the last two digits are the Hodge-Siegel-Rossi (HSR) prestige scores. In the second classification, the first three digits are the 1980 U.S. census occupational codes, and the last two digits are the NORC/General Social Survey (GSS) prestige scores. The third classification uses 2010 U.S. census occupational codes. The most recent modification was in 2018. This is important to see the changes in the occupation scores over time. This classification is based on the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC), published by the Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget. Updated codes, deleted codes and new codes are explained here: https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/demo/guidance/industry-occupation/overview2019.pdf

The 2021 GSS occupational prestige study will be used in several ways. First, those occupational titles used in 2012 that were rated in the 1963-1965 and/or 1989 surveys can be used to study changes in the social standing of those specific occupations. Core occupations asked of all respondents would be most suitable for such analysis. Second, an occupational prestige variable (PRESTG10), based on the 2010 census classification of occupations (OCC10), will be created. It will be parallel to GSS variables PRESTIGE, based on the 1970 census codes (OCC70) and the 1963-1965 HSR studies, and PRESTG80, based on the 1980 census codes (OCC80) and 1989 GSS prestige study. Similar occupational prestige variables will be created for the 2010 occupational variables for mother, father, and spouse (MAOCC10, PAOCC10, SPOCC10). Finally, the new occupational prestige variables will be used to create socioeconomic index (SEI) variables for respondents, mothers, fathers, and spouses parallel to the existing SEI variables for earlier occupational codes (SEI, MASEI, PASEI, SPSEI).

Codebook: https://gss.norc.org/Documents/codebook/GSS%202021%20Codebook%20R1.pdf

Prestige and Socioeconomic Scores for the 2010 Census Codes: https://gss.norc.org/Documents/reports/methodological-reports/MR124.pdf



Derived Variables


Process and Review

The Social Determinants of Health-X (SDoH-X) Working Group (WG) reviewed this protocol in May 2022.

Guidance from the SDoH-X WG includes:

 • Replaced or Updated protocol

Protocol Name from Source

Not applicable; see source.


U.S. Census Bureau. (1970). Occupational Classification Distributions. Retrieved from http://gss.norc.org/documents/codebook/GSS_Codebook_AppendixF.pdf

U.S. Census Bureau. (2022). American Community Survey (ACS), questions 42e and 42f. Retrieved from https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/methodology/questionnaires/2022/quest22.pdf

U.S. Census Bureau. (2021, November 20). About Occupation. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/topics/employment/industry-occupation/about/occupation.html

General References

Fernandez, C. A., Christ, S. L., LeBlanc, W. G., Arheart, K. L., Dietz, N. A., McCollister, K. E., … Lee, D. J. (2015). Effect of childhood victimization on occupational prestige and income trajectories. PLoS One, 10(2), e0115519.

Frederick, C. (2010). A crosswalk for using pre-2000 occupational status and prestige codes with post-2000 occupation codes (Working Paper No. 2010-03). Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI. PMID: 25506974

Fujishiro, K., Xu, J., & Gong, F. (2010). What does "occupation" represent as an indicator of socioeconomic status? Exploring occupational prestige and health. Social Science & Medicine, 71(12), 2100–2107.

Nakao, K., & Treas, J. (1992). The 1989 socioeconomic index of occupations: Construction from the 1989 occupational prestige scores. GSS Methodological Report, 74.

U.S. Census Bureau. (2022). The American Community Survey. American Community Survey (ACS). Retrieved from https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/methodology/questionnaires/2022/quest22.pdf

U.S. Census Bureau. (2020). U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration. Retrieved from https://census.gov/

Protocol ID


Export Variables
Variable Name Variable IDVariable DescriptiondbGaP Mapping
PX270501010000 What kind of work was this person doing? more
(For example: registered nurse, personnel manager, supervisor of order department, secretary, accountant) show less
PX270501020000 What were this person's most important more
activities or duties? Describe the activity at the location where employed. (For example: patient care, directing hiring policies, supervising order clerks, typing and filing, reconciling financial records) show less
Social Determinants of Health: Core
Measure Name

Occupational Prestige

Release Date

May 11, 2020


Occupational prestige is a construct that assigns a social status to a specific occupation.


This measure describes a person’s relative social class and can be used to calculate a community-level view of careers.


American Community Survey, ACS, General Social Survey, GSS, occupational status, SES Measures (income, education, occupation), work characteristics

Measure Protocols
Protocol ID Protocol Name
270501 Occupational Prestige

Bart, T. A., et al. (2023) Measurement invariance of commonly used psychosis-screening scales in US Spanish- and English-speaking Hispanic participants. Psychological Assessment. 2023 April; 35(4): 300-310. doi: 10.1037/pas0001207

Pomeroy, A., et al. (2022) Protocol for a Longitudinal Study of the Determinants of Metabolic Syndrome Risk in Young Adults. Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. 2022 April; 7(2): 8. doi: 10.1249/tjx.0000000000000197