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Personality, Lifetime Earnings, and Retirement Wealth

  • Angela Lee Duckworth

    (University of Pennsylvania)

  • David R. Weir

    (University of Michigan)

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    Studies of adolescents and young adults have shown that schooling impacts economic outcomes beyond its impact on cognitive ability. Research has also shown that the personality trait of conscientiousness predicts health outcomes, academic outcomes, and divorce. Using the Big Five taxonomy of personality traits, this study examines whether non-cognitive traits are related to economic success over the life course. Examining Health and Retirement Study survey data linked to Social Security records on over 10,000 adults age 50 and over, we investigate the relationship of personality traits to economic outcomes. Controlling for cognitive ability and background variables, do more conscientious and emotionally stable adults have higher lifetime earnings, and is this due to higher annual earnings, longer work lives, or both? Do more conscientious adults save a higher proportion of their earnings for retirement, and does conscientiousness of each partner in a married couple matter? Do conscientiousness and emotional stability interact such that the effects of conscientiousness are greater among less emotionally stable adults?

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    File URL: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/Papers/pdf/wp235.pdf
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    Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp235.

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    Length: 21 pages
    Date of creation: Oct 2010
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp235
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    1. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J., 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 2550, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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