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Personality and the gender wage gap

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  • Ellen K. Nyhus
  • Empar Pons

Abstract

In this study, we investigate whether personality traits contribute towards a better understanding of the reasons for the gender wage gap. We explore whether two of the personality factors put forward by Bowles et al . (2001) as likely to be incentive enhancing in the employer--employee relationship can explain the difference in wages for women and men. These are (1) personal self efficacy (Locus of Control (LoC)) and (2) time preference. We also study the role of the so called Big Five personality traits (extraversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, openness intellect and conscientiousness), which have been associated with earnings in several recent studies. Using a sample of Dutch employees, we found that 11.5% of the observed gender wage gap could be ascribed to differences in the personality trait scores (mainly in agreeableness and intellect), while less than 0.5% could be ascribed to gender differences in the returns to the traits. The addition of personality traits to a traditional human capital model reduces the unexplained part of the gender wage gap from 75.2% to 62.7%. We therefore conclude that these traits represent a valuable addition to the model.

Suggested Citation

  • Ellen K. Nyhus & Empar Pons, 2012. "Personality and the gender wage gap," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(1), pages 105-118, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:44:y:2012:i:1:p:105-118
    DOI: 10.1080/00036846.2010.500272
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. L Feinstein, 2000. "The Relative Economic Importance of Academic, Psychological and Behavioural Attributes Developed on Chilhood," CEP Discussion Papers dp0443, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    2. Feinstein, Leon, 2000. "The relative economic importance of academic, psychological and behavioural attributes developed on childhood," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20206, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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    Cited by:

    1. Vassil, Kristjan & Eamets, Raul & Mõtsmees, Pille, 2014. "Socio-demographic Model of Gender Gap in Expected and Actual Wages in Estonia," IZA Discussion Papers 8604, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Matthias Collischon, 2017. "The Returns to Personality Traits across the Wage Distribution," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 921, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    3. Inés P. Murillo & Hipólito Simón, 2014. "La Gran Recesión y el diferencial salarial por género en España," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 208(1), pages 39-76, March.
    4. repec:dau:papers:123456789/15003 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Vinod Mishra & Russell Smyth, 2014. "It pays to be happy (if you are a man): Subjective wellbeing and the gender wage gap in Urban China," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 35(3), pages 392-414, May.
    6. Chan, Alex W.H. & Cheung, Hoi Yan, 2016. "Extraversion, individualism and M&A activities," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 356-369.
    7. Roger Wilkins & Mark Wooden, 2013. "Gender Differences in Involuntary Job Loss: Why Are Men More Likely to Lose Their Jobs?," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 582-608, April.
    8. Collischon, Matthias, 2016. "Personality, ability, marriage and the gender wage gap: Evidence from Germany," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 08/2016, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    9. Collischon & Matthias, 2018. "Can Personality Traits Explain Glass Ceilings?," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 965, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

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