I argue that the first question to ask is whether hearing someone use the phrase "At the end of the day" conveys information on whether they are likely to be a manager…
Well, a definitive determination of the information gain involved, aside from its limited general interest, would require more resources than I can bring to bear over my morning coffee. But we can make a plausible guess, and the answer turns out to be that the "information gain" is probably pretty small, and is just about as likely to point away from the conclusion that the speaker or writer is a manager as towards it.
The information gain associated with an observation y is
In the current case, this cashes out as the probability that someone is a manager given that we've added to our background knowledge the fact that they said or wrote "at the end of the day" — call it p(manager | ATEOTD,I) — multiplied by the base2-log of the ratio between this same term p(manager | ATEOTD,I) and P(manager | I), which is the probability that they're a manager given only our background knowledge I. We should sum this quantity over the alternatives in the distribution under consideration, here x=manager and x=not-manager.
Based on the distribution of this phrase in Mark Davies' COCA corpus, p(manager | ATEOTD,I) seems to be about one in a hundred, 0.01. (In other words, out of a hundred speakers or writers of the phrase "at the end of the day" in its figurative meaning, one is a manager, on average. See below for details.)
What about the probability that someone is a manager given only the background distribution, symbolized p(manager,I)? We don't want to use Census Bureau statistics, since being the source of speech or text in the COCA sample is already going to be highly skewed relative to the occupational distribution of the general American population, regardless of what phrases are used.
Before even trying to estimate this quantity, we can look at what the information gain would turn out to be, for a variety of values for this background proportion of managers. If one in a hundred sources of speech or text in COCA is a "manager", then the information gain is 0.01*log(0.01/0.01) + 0.99*log(0.99/0.99) = 0 bits. If it's one in a thousand, the information gain is 0.01*log(0.01/0.001) + 0.99*log(0.99/0.999) = 0.02 bits.
But I'd be very surprised if the proportion of "managers" in the COCA sample was even as low as one in a thousand — and it might very well be more than one in a hundred, not less.
If we search COCA for the phrase "in the final analysis", for example, the first 100 hits include four clear examples of a managerial source, and two other marginal ones. If the actual value of p(manager) is actually .04, then the information gain associated with saying or writing "at the end of the day" will be 0.01*log2(0.01/0.04) + 0.99*log2(0.99/0.96) = 0.024 bits, but tending towards the conclusion that x=not-manager. Thus if this estimate of p(manager | I) is accurate, use of "at the end of the day" is a small piece of evidence against the hypothesis that the speaker or writer is a "manager".
Unfortunately, I don't see a good way to get a representative random sample of COCA sources, which we would need in order to estimate p(manager | I) properly. But I invite readers to try to sharpen up these estimates, if they're interested — I've satisfied myself that saying or writing "at the end of the day" provides no useful evidence that someone is a "manager", and may in fact count as a small piece of evidence in the opposite direction.
And for those social scientists still reading this (if any), let me point out that setting up to do this sort of analysis in a more systematic way would provide an interesting laboratory for investigating the quantitative relationship between stereotypes and reality. The comments on earlier posts in this series make it clear that many Americans are absolutely convinced that "at the end of the day" is manager-speak. My guess remains that most linguistic peeves associated with despised groups will turn out to be similarly unsupported by evidence.
In Mark Davies' COCA corpus, there are 2,438 examples of "at the end of the day' in 400 million words, for an overall frequency of 6.1 per million words. The frequency is greater in "spoken" material (basically news interviews) than in other genres:
|Size (MW)||Freq||Freq per MW|
And the rate of use has nearly tripled over the past couple of decades:
|Size (MW)||Freq||Freq per MW|
Checking the first (most recent) 200 COCA hits for this phrase, I determined that 51 of them were literal references to the end of daylight, or the end of a working day, or the end of a 24-hour period. That left 149 figurative uses, meaning something like "in the final analysis". Of these, just one was spoken or written by someone I would call a "manager", namely the spokesperson for a manufacturer of sex toys (Jessica Rae Patton, "Make Love, Not Waste: Bringing Environmentalism into the Bedroom", E: the Environmental Magazine, Sep/Oct 2008):
Day says, " We are working on reduction by offering products in larger quantities–lubricant in a 16-ounce bottle, for instance. Dildos that are glass or wood… will eventually go back to the earth, and if used as they're meant to be used, will last a very long time. " The store no longer carries products containing phthalates. " We offer a huge selection of rechargeable vibrators, " she says, but acknowledges, " At the end of the day, it is still a manufactured product that will eventually end up in the dump. That's the grim reality. " Day notes that the adult product industry hasn't yet figured out how to address this waste. " It's only a matter of time before that person comes forward who figures out how to recycle sex toys. Trust me, every company in the adult industry will use that service! " she says.
The only other source that was close to being a "manager" was a fashion designer ("Hottest, Newest, Latest", Harpers Bazaar, June 2009:
His strong, architectural silhouettes come together to compose a collection of 21 looks, including everything from a modernized interpretation of a tuxedo to a feminine white blouse made of frothy embellished flowers (at right) to exquisite column evening gowns. All in a primary palette of red, white, and black (with some touches of fur detailing), the pieces will be sold at such stores as Bloomingdale's in New York and DNA in Saudi Arabia. " At the end of the day, I didn't know what the reaction would be, but I'm a firm believer that if you do something with pure integrity, you'll find an audience, " Gurung says. Well, this audience is still applauding.
So depending on how you count, we get an estimate of 1 or 2 in 149, or about 0.0067 to 0.013 — let's call it one in a hundred, 0.01.
The other sources for ATEOTD in this sample are pretty diverse — a TV journalist, a rescue hero, a basketball player, a rapper, a country singer, a primatologist, and so on:
Let me press down on that. At the end of the day, are you really talking about over the course of your presidency, some kind of a grand bargain?
Mr-COLLIER: At the end of the day it worked for us and we did what we had to do. Mr-ELLIS: Having got those people off were, particularly in this case, nobody else could have gotten them out. Mr-COLLIER: It' s very satisfying.
Yeah, I mean, Shaq, you know, Kobe does really recognize that Shaq helped him to get three titles and Shaq got another title on his own without Kobe, but at the end of the day, both of them realized that they missed out on opportunities to do something special and – you know, when you' re a little bit younger, you' re a little bit immature and then when you get old and wiser, you reflect on things that would' ve – could have happened.
The rest of Relapse is even more grim. Many of Eminem's new songs depict his drug years in terms that seem to alternate between raw honesty and wild hyperbole. And though rumors have spread that his estranged and reportedly ailing mother, Debbie Nelson, is eager for a reconciliation, a song titled " My Mom " takes aim at her as viciously as ever. (" Don't get me wrong, " he said during last week's Sirius XM interview. " At the end of the day, she is my mother and I do love her. ")
When all this role-playing is over, the wife of country legend Tim McGraw and mother of three girls (Gracie, 12, Maggie, 10, and Audrey, 7) has no problem snapping back to reality. She washes her face, pulls her hair into a ponytail, and slips back into those sweats. Has she discovered anything from stepping into such glamorous shoes? " At the end of the day, for me beauty has a lot to do with comfort and being around my family. And, " she says with a laugh, " most likely no makeup! " Then, with a big hug and a cheery " Thank you! " to everyone on set, she's off to meet Tim at the girls' school for a basketball game.
" It's hard to say what exactly precipitated this behavior, " said Colleen McCann, a primatologist at the Bronx Zoo. " At the end of the day, they are not human and you can't always predict their behavior and how they or any other wild animal will respond when they feel threatened. "
As for "in the final analysis", the four manager-sources in the first 100 hits were:
("Constellation calls off deal with Buffett unit", Business News, Dec. 2008) " In the final analysis, we concluded that the EdF investment represents significant enhanced value for our shareholders and serves the best interest as well of our customers, our employees, our regulators and the communities we serve, " Mayo A. Shattuck III, chairman, president and chief executive of Constellation Energy, told analysts on a conference call.
("Are you paying yourself enough?", Inc magazine, Nov. 2004) And that's something to keep in mind. In the final analysis, says Driskill, whatever you don't take from your company today should eventually come back to you. " Really, when I'm ready to retire, the compensation issue becomes moot, " she says, " because theoretically I will sell the company back to my employees. That's the nice thing — it all becomes your money in the end. "
(" In U.S. Plants and Wallets, The Other Iraq Standoff ", WaPo, Feb. 2003) " The Gulf War triggered a relief trade in equity markets and a brief surge in consumer business confidence, but in the final analysis, we didn't have a normal, self-sustaining recovery until' 93, " said David Rosenberg, chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch &; Co. in New York.
(" An Experimental Examination of Information Technology and Compensation Structure Complementarities in an Expert System Context. ", Journal of Information Systems, Spring 2003) Prendergast (1999) suggests that about one-third of the increase in performance attributable to PC incentives arises from attracting more skilled workers, with the remainder attributable to increased effort. In the final analysis, it is the combination of skill and effort that leads to task performance.