Off Topic: Sleepless Economists?

By Dennis Meyers

This has little or nothing to do with the outlook for California, but a puzzling factoid appeared in the news recently.

“According to the research that was conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey …Police officers, physicians and economists rounded out the top five most sleep-deprived careers.”  (read the article)

The top two most sleep deprived occupations were home health aides and lawyers.  Following economists were social workers and computer programmers.

Even though this puts economists in good company, its not clear to me why the economics profession ranks so high in this category.  Maybe its a guilty conscience over our forecasts that are always wrong.  The survey could also have included an inordinate number of Wall Street economists, which makes this conclusion very understandable.

Any other hypotheses would be welcome.

Top seven most sleep deprived occupations:

  1. home health aides
  2. lawyers
  3. police officers
  4. physicians
  5. economists
  6. social workers
  7. computer programmers
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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Off Topic: Sleepless Economists?

  1. I’m going to call statistical shenanigans here. Let’s suppose it is true that Wall Street economists are skewing the data for economists. Would you not then expect financial analysts and investment bankers to be even more sleep deprived? And secretaries are number 10? Where are the firefighters, long haul truck drivers and airline pilots? It is well known that these are sleep deprivation professions. The FAA has had a few studies on it and has implemented new rules in order to insure that they obtain a minimal amount of sleep to do their jobs.

    One of the lessons I try to impart to my students is to look at the result of your statistical analysis and see if it passes the smell test. If it does not (and this clearly does not) you need to look more deeply to ascertain why not.

  2. What’s interesting is that almost everyone is sleep-deprived. The highly-deprived are getting seven hours of sleep, but the least sleep-deprived are getting only seven hours and twenty minutes.

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