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Household Finances and the 'Big Five' Personality Traits

  • Brown, Sarah


    (University of Sheffield)

  • Taylor, Karl


    (University of Sheffield)

We explore the relationship between household finances and personality traits from an empirical perspective. Specifically, using individual level data drawn from the British Household Panel Survey, we analyse the influence of personality traits on financial decision-making at the individual level focusing on decisions regarding unsecured debt acquisition and financial assets. Personality traits are classified according to the 'Big Five' taxonomy: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. We find that certain personality traits such as extraversion and openness to experience exert relatively large influences on household finances in terms of the levels of debt and assets held. In contrast, personality traits such as conscientiousness and neuroticism appear to be unimportant in influencing levels of unsecured debt and financial asset holding. Our findings also suggest that personality traits have different effects across the various types of debt and assets held. For example, openness to experience does not appear to influence the probability of having national savings but is found to increase the probability of holding stocks and shares, a relatively risky financial asset.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6191.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Economic Psychology, 2014, 45, 197-212
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6191
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  1. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1996. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Discussion Papers 96-01, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  2. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Schurer, Stefanie, 2012. "The stability of big-five personality traits," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 11-15.
  3. Gropp, Reint & Scholz, John Karl & White, Michelle J, 1997. "Personal Bankruptcy and Credit Supply and Demand," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 217-51, February.
  4. Heineck, Guido & Anger, Silke, 2010. "The returns to cognitive abilities and personality traits in Germany," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 535-546, June.
  5. Sarah Brown & Gaia Garino & Karl Taylor, 2008. "Mortgages and Financial Expectations: A Household-Level Analysis," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 857-878, January.
  6. Donald Cox & Tullio Japelli, 1993. "The Effect Of Borrowing Constraints On Consumer Liabilities," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 228, Boston College Department of Economics.
  7. Luigi Guiso & Tullio Jappelli, 2000. "Household Portfolios in Italy," CSEF Working Papers 43, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  8. Mathilde Almlund & Angela Lee Duckworth & James J. Heckman & Tim D. Kautz, 2011. "Personality Psychology and Economics," NBER Working Papers 16822, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521899604 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Carol Bertaut & Martha Starr-McCluer, 2000. "Household portfolios in the United States," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-26, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. Alita Nandi & Cheti Nicoletti, 2014. "Explaining personality pay gaps in the UK," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(26), pages 3131-3150, September.
  12. Caliendo, Marco & Fossen, Frank M. & Kritikos, Alexander S., 2011. "Personality characteristics and the decision to become and stay self-employed," Discussion Papers 2011/9, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  13. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521728355 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Cobb-Clark, Deborah & Schurer, Stefanie, 2011. "Two economists’ musings on the stability of locus of control," Working Paper Series 1619, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Economics and Finance.
  15. Alessandra Guariglia, 2001. "Saving behaviour and earnings uncertainty: Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 619-634.
  16. Roger Koenker & Kevin F. Hallock, 2001. "Quantile Regression," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 143-156, Fall.
  17. Jonathan Crook, 2001. "The demand for household debt in the USA: evidence from the 1995 Survey of Consumer Finance," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(1), pages 83-91.
  18. Sarah Brown & Karl Taylor & Gaia Garino & Stephen Wheatley Price, 2003. "Debt and financial expectations: an individual and household level analysis," Discussion Papers in Economics 03/5, Department of Economics, University of Leicester, revised Feb 2004.
  19. Hochguertel, Stefan & Alessie, Rob & van Soest, Arthur, 1997. " Saving Accounts versus Stocks and Bonds in Household Portfolio Allocation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 99(1), pages 81-97, March.
  20. Sarah Brown & Karl Taylor, 2008. "Household debt and financial assets: evidence from Germany, Great Britain and the USA," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 171(3), pages 615-643.
  21. Yannis Bilias & Roger Koenker, 2001. "Quantile regression for duration data: A reappraisal of the Pennsylvania Reemployment Bonus Experiments," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 199-220.
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