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Household finances and the 'Big Five' personality traits

  • Sarah Brown


    (Department of Economics, The University of Sheffield)

  • Karl Taylor


    (Department of Economics, The 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 The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2011025.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:shf:wpaper:2011025
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  9. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Schurer, Stefanie, 2012. "The stability of big-five personality traits," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 11-15.
  10. Sarah Brown & Gaia Garino & Karl Taylor, 2005. "Mortgages and Financial Expectations: A Household Level Analysis," Discussion Papers in Economics 05/9, Department of Economics, University of Leicester, revised Dec 2006.
  11. 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.
  12. Almlund, Mathilde & Duckworth, Angela Lee & Heckman, James J. & Kautz, Tim, 2011. "Personality Psychology and Economics," IZA Discussion Papers 5500, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  16. 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.
  17. Sarah Brown & Gaia Garino & Karl Taylor & Stephen Wheatley Price, 2005. "Debt and Financial Expectations: An Individual- and Household-Level Analysis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(1), pages 100-120, January.
  18. 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.
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  22. Parker,Simon C., 2009. "The Economics of Entrepreneurship," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521728355.
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