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Fetal Origins of Personality: Effects of early life circumstances on adult personality traits

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  • Sonya Krutikova
  • Helene Bie Lilleør

Abstract

Personality traits are highly predictive of life outcomes and successes. However, little is known about their formation and what can hamper their development. There is ample evidence that conditions in early-life can have persistent influence on health and cognitive skills. In this paper, we ask whether this is also the case for the formation and development of personality traits. We find strong and robust evidence of persistent impacts among siblings of early-life rainfall fluctuations on measures of a latent personality trait, known as core self-evaluation, in adulthood. The results are driven by females, irrespective of the gender composition of siblings within the household. There is heterogeneity across households likely to have different levels of credit access, suggesting a household wealth mechanism; effects are strongest for households with lowest durable asset holdings. Effects on other outcomes in adulthood suggest that early life rainfall may impact adult core self-evaluation through health, schooling and wealth, although we cannot rule out reverse causality.

Suggested Citation

  • Sonya Krutikova & Helene Bie Lilleør, 2015. "Fetal Origins of Personality: Effects of early life circumstances on adult personality traits," CSAE Working Paper Series 2015-03, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2015-03
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    1. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie & Valentina Duque, 2018. "Childhood Circumstances and Adult Outcomes: Act II," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 56(4), pages 1360-1446, December.
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    3. Mochamad Pasha & Marc Rockmore & Chih Ming Tan, 2019. "Positive Early Life Rainfall Shocks and Adult Mental Health," Working Paper series 19-09, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    4. Mochamad Pasha & Marc Rockmore & Chih Ming Tan, 2018. "Early Life Exposure to Above Average Rainfall and Adult Mental Health," CINCH Working Paper Series 1805, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.
    5. Abay, Kibrom A. & Blalock, Garrick & Berhane, Guush, 2017. "Locus of control and technology adoption in developing country agriculture: Evidence from Ethiopia," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 98-115.
    6. Kibrom A. Abay & Guush Berhane & Garrick Blalock, 2018. "Locus of Control and Technology Adoption in Africa: Evidence from Ethiopia," Working Papers PMMA 2018-04, PEP-PMMA.
    7. Chang, Grace & Favara, Marta & Novella, Rafael, 2020. "The Origins of Cognitive Skills and Non-cognitive Skills: The Long-Term Effect of in-Utero Rainfall Shocks in India," IZA Discussion Papers 13960, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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