Mature Women Occupation Variables

This section reviews (1) the occupational classification coding systems used by the Census Bureau to classify occupations of NLS respondents and other household members and (2) the occupational prestige scoring systems assigned to 1960 Census occupations. Data on the occupation(s) that respondents were seeking or in which they were employed or received training were collected during most survey years. In addition, select surveys collected information on the occupation of intervening and dual jobs.

Coding by occupation was based on an open-ended question (e.g., "What kind of work [are/were] you doing?"). Follow-up questions fielded during some survey years elicited more specific information on job duties and job titles. Interviewers entered verbatim responses from the respondent into the questionnaire; Census personnel then coded the responses using the 1960, 1980, 1990, and/or 2000 Census Bureau Alphabetical Index of Occupations and Industries. Table MW1 shows which coding systems were used in various survey years.

Table MW1. Occupation Coding Systems Used by Survey Year

Coding System 1967-82 1984, 1986 1987, 1989 1992 1995-2003
1960 Codes * * * *  
1980 Codes-current/last job only   *      
1980 Codes-current/last job and dual job only     * *  
1980 Codes-all jobs         *
1990 Codes-current/last job and dual job only       *  
1990 Codes-all jobs         *
2000 Codes-all jobs         *

A series of edited variables (O & I Rewrite) provides three-digit and one-digit occupational codes for the current or last job ever reported by the respondent.  The universe for these variables is all respondents interviewed in a given survey year for whom occupational data were ever collected.  This series ended in 1993 because the 1960 codes were discontinued.

The User Notes in the Industries section of this guide provide additional information on the editing and creation procedures utilized for certain occupation variables.

Occupational prestige indices. The following occupational prestige scores are provided for select variables:

  1. Duncan Index: All three-digit 1960 Census occupational categories have been assigned a two-digit ordinal prestige score based upon the education and income distributions of the occupation. The scores, ranging from 0 to 97, may be interpreted either as estimates of prestige ratings or simply as values on a scale of occupational socioeconomic status. For details, see Duncan (1961).
  2. Bose Index: This ordinal measure of the prestige of an occupation was developed from responses of a sample of 197 white households in the Baltimore metropolitan area to questions about the prestige of 110 selected occupations. The rankings within each occupation were averaged and the mean values transformed to a metric with values 0 to 100 (Bose 1973). The latter scores were regressed on the 1959 median earnings and 1960 median years of school completed of the civilian experienced labor force employed in these occupations (Census 1960). The resultant equation was then used to estimate the mean prestige scores for occupations of the Mature Women. See Attachment 4 in the Young Women's Codebook Supplement for more information.

Related Variables: Information on the occupations of family or household members is available for many survey years; see the Household Composition section for more information.

Survey Instruments & Documentation: Questions on occupations are found within the "Current Labor Force Status," "Work History," and "Retirement and Pension" sections of the questionnaires; occupations of household members were collected as part of the "Family Background" or "Household Members" sections. Attachment 4 of the Codebook Supplement lists the Bose Index scores for select 1960 occupations.

User Notes

Previously, variable titles for occupations listed within the various NLS documentation items did not always specify the Census coding system utilized.  If no year is listed, users should assume that the 1960 classification was used for coding.  Later releases added the year to the title indicating which Census system was used.Appendix E in Bose (1985) presents additional Bose scores for the 1970 and 1980 as well as 1960 Census occupations.

The series of edited occupational variables (O & I Rewrite) can be differentiated from the direct questionnaire item 'Occupation of Current or Last Job' variables by a question name of "CV" or by the word "collapsed" appended to the titles of these edited variables.  See the Occupation & Industry Rewrite discussion in the "Industries" section of this guide for additional information.  This series ended in 1993 because the 1960 codes were dropped.

In the questionnaires and Census versions of the data files provided to CHRR, the responses to some employment-related questions were coded in such a way as to require reference to another question's response.  Relevant notations are present within the codebook.

The user should also be aware that "job" changes are tracked with ambiguity as to whether they are an occupation change, employer change, or both.


Bose, Christine E. Jobs and Gender: Sex and Occupational Prestige. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Center for Metropolitan Planning and Research, 1973.

Bose, Christine E. Jobs and Gender: Sex and Occupational Prestige. New York: Praeger Publishing, 1985.

Census Bureau. 1960 Census of Population Alphabetical Index of Occupations and Industries (Revised Edition). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1960.

Census Bureau. "1970 Occupation and Industry Classification Systems in Terms of Their 1960 Occupation and Industry Elements." Technical Paper 26. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1972.

Census Bureau. 1980 Census of Population Classified Index of Industries and Occupations. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1980.

Census Bureau. Census of Population and Housing, 1990, Alphabetical Index of Industries and Occupations. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1990.

Census Bureau. "The Relationship Between the 1970 and 1980 Industry and Occupation Classification Systems." Technical Paper 59. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1989.

Census Bureau. U.S. Census of Population: 1960. Subject Reports. Occupational Characteristics. Final Report PC (2)-7A. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1960.

Duncan, O.D. "A Socioeconomic Index for All Occupations." In Occupations and Social Status, A.J. Reiss, Jr. et al. New York: Free Press, 1961.

U.S. Department of Labor. "Dictionary of Occupational Titles (Fourth Edition)." Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1977.