Understanding New Zealand: Demographics of High-Skill Occupations

This article is a companion to the earlier Voting Patterns of High-Skill Occupations.

Because the sort of person who becomes a manager is the same sort of person who runs everything else in the country, including – and especially – the Government, the demographics of this occupation will tell us a lot about the sort of person who controls the power apparatus in New Zealand.

Predictably, there is a very strong positive correlation between being of European descent and working as a manager – this was 0.54. Also predictably, there was a very strong negative correlation between being a Pacific Islander and working as a manager – this was -0.60.

Some might be surprised to find out that the correlation between being Maori and working as a manager was very close to zero – namely, -0.11. In other words, it was much less strongly negative than the comparable correlation with being of Pacific Island descent.

This reflects a number of things, the foremost being that Maoris are more likely to have the necessary mana to be appointed a manager in the first place.

The ethnic demographics of professionals, by contrast, reflected educational demographics. The correlation between being Asian and working as a professional was 0.37, which reflects the fact that a professional degree is a ticket to move almost anywhere in the world you like, and that many Asians use that ticket to move to New Zealand.

Anyone who has been exposed to a Luciferian conspiracy theory recently might be interested to learn that working in a high-skill occupation is fairly strongly correlated with having no religion. The correlation between working as a manager and having no religion was 0.49, which is extremely strong if one considers that managers tend to be much older than average and that old people are much more religious than average.

The correlation between working as a professional and having no religion was 0.33, also fairly strong if one takes into account that many of the New Zealand professional class are born in highly religious overseas countries or communities (there are positive correlations between working as a professional and being any of Catholic, Jewish, Muslim or Hindu).

The major division in the high-skill group is one of age: managers are much older than professionals, for the obvious reason that the skills needed to become a manager are learned over the course of a career, while the skills needed to become a professional are usually learned before the career begins.

The correlation between median age and working as a manager was 0.43. There was a positive correlation between working as a manager and all age brackets above 30 years of age, which is understandable given that it takes time to learn how to manage a business.

The correlation between median age and working as a professional was -0.15. This was not significant but still shows that the professional class in New Zealand is very young. Mostly this was because the age brackets between 20 and 50 years of age all had correlations stronger than 0.50 with working as a professional.

This is primarily for two reasons. The first is that a recently graduated foreign professional is more strongly advantaged by the immigration system than an older one, and the second is that the tertiary education sector in New Zealand has only recently expanded and so the bulk of Kiwi professionals are only recently trained.

Professionals on average are wealthier than managers, despite being younger. The correlation between net personal income and working as a professional was 0.68, compared to 0.49 for managers.

The disparity is most evident when one looks at specific income bands. For people in the $60-70K income band, the correlations with being a manager and being a professional were about the same: for the former it was 0.54 and for the latter it was 0.56.

It was even stronger for people in the $70-100K income band: the correlation between being in this band and being a manager was 0.49 and for being a professional 0.84. It was strongest of all in the $100-150K income band: the correlation between being in this band and being a manager was 0.41 and for being a professional an extremely strong 0.88.

This tells us that there are proportionately few managers in the very highest income brackets, for the simple reason that this is where the vast bulk of doctors, lawyers, judges, psychologists etc. are.

In other words, becoming a manager is the slow route to the big time, whereas getting a professional degree is the fast route. Nowhere is this more evident than when the correlations with the higher degrees are examined.

The correlations between working as a manager and having an Honours, Master’s or doctorate degree were 0.17, 0.11 and 0.08 respectively. None of these were significant. The corresponding correlations for professionals were extremely strong: 0.93, 0.91 and 0.76.

Perhaps these differences can be explained by a natural intelligence gap. All other things being equal, a person in a high-skill occupation is going to be more intelligent than someone in a non-high-skill occupation. However, the manager class is mostly built up over time from the most suitable of people from the medium-skill occupations, whereas the professional class mostly consists of people who have been identified as specially academically talented since their first years of school.

There may be support for this supposition with a look at the patterns of tobacco smoking. The managerial class had a correlation of 0.44 with being an ex-smoker and a correlation of -0.01 with having never smoked. This suggests that they are the sort of person who is much like anyone else until they get older and find that the health drawbacks of smoking outweigh the psychological benefits.

The professional class, by contrast, had a correlation of 0.59 with never having smoked. As both ex-smokers and people who have never smoked (plus a large number of current smokers) could all tell you, never having smoked tobacco is the smartest option, if you can manage it!

Another notable difference between the two classes is that professionals have a significant positive correlation with being born overseas (0.37), whereas managers are slightly less likely than the average Kiwi to be so (-0.17).

This reflects the fact that it takes so long to work one’s way up to become a manager that it’s far easier to do if you stay in the same country. Professionals have much less in the way of such considerations.

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This article is an excerpt from Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan, due to be published by VJM Publishing this winter.

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