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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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  1. 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.
  2. Borghans Lex & Lee Duckworth Angela & Heckman James J. & Weel Bas ter, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," ROA Research Memorandum 001, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  3. Guido Heineck & Silke Anger, 2008. "The Returns to Cognitive Abilities and Personality Traits in Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 836, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  4. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Schennach, Susanne, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 4702, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. 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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  7. Cobb-Clark, Deborah & Schurer, Stefanie, 2011. "The stability of big-five personality traits," Working Paper Series 1834, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Economics and Finance.
  8. Heckman, James J., 2011. "Integrating Personality Psychology into Economics," IZA Discussion Papers 5950, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. 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.
  10. Uysal, Selver Derya & Pohlmeier, Winfried, 2011. "Unemployment duration and personality," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 980-992.
  11. Gerrit Mueller & Erik Plug, 2006. "Estimating the Effect of Personality on Male and Female Earnings," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(1), pages 3-22, October.
  12. Thomas Dee & Martin West, 2008. "The Non-Cognitive Returns to Class Size," NBER Working Papers 13994, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Heckman, James J. & Pinto, Rodrigo & Savelyev, Peter, 2012. "Understanding the Mechanisms Through Which an Influential Early Childhood Program Boosted Adult Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 7040, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  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. 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.
  16. Fletcher, Jason M., 2009. "Beauty vs. brains: Early labor market outcomes of high school graduates," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(3), pages 321-325, December.
  17. Nyhus, Ellen K. & Pons, Empar, 2005. "The effects of personality on earnings," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 363-384, June.
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  19. Melissa Osborne & Herbert Gintis & Samuel Bowles, 2001. "The Determinants of Earnings: A Behavioral Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1137-1176, December.
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