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The Effects of Personality Traits on Adult Labor Market Outcomes: Evidence from Siblings

  • Fletcher, Jason M.


    (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

While large literatures have shown that cognitive ability and schooling increases employment and wages, an emerging literature examines the importance of so-called "non-cognitive skills" in producing labor market outcomes. However, this smaller literature has not typically used causal methods in estimating the results. One source of heterogeneity that may play an important role in producing both personality and other non-cognitive skills and labor market outcomes is family background, including genetic endowments. This paper is the first to use sibling differences to estimate the effects of personality on employment and wages and is also able to control for many other sources of heterogeneity, including attractiveness, cognitive ability, schooling, occupation, and other factors. Overall, the findings suggest that personality measures are important determinants of labor market outcomes in adulthood and that the results vary considerably by demographic group. The findings also highlight the potential role of extraversion in leading to favorable labor market outcomes, which has not been documented in many other studies.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6391.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, online first
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6391
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  2. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
  3. Bound, John & Solon, Gary, 1999. "Double trouble: on the value of twins-based estimation of the return to schooling," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 169-182, April.
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  5. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Susanne M. Schennach, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 883-931, 05.
  6. Borghans, Lex & Duckworth, Angela Lee & Heckman, James J. & ter Weel, Bas, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," IZA Discussion Papers 3333, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  11. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
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  14. Goldsmith, Arthur H & Veum, Jonathan R & Darity, William, Jr, 1997. "The Impact of Psychological and Human Capital on Wages," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(4), pages 815-29, October.
  15. 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.
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