Personality, IQ, and lifetime earnings

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This paper estimates the effects of personality traits and IQ on lifetime earnings of the men and women of the Terman study, a high-IQ U.S. sample. Age-by-age earnings profiles allow a study of when personality traits affect earnings most, and for whom the effects are strongest. I document a concave life-cycle pattern in the payoffs to personality traits, with the largest effects between the ages of 40 and 60. An interaction of traits with education reveals that personality matters most for highly educated men. The largest effects are found for Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Agreeableness (negative), where Conscientiousness operates partly through education, which also has significant returns.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLabour Economics
Pages (from-to)170-183
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - personality traits, socio-emotional skills, cognitive skills, returns to education, lifetime earnings, Big Five, human capital, factor analysis, J24, I24, J16

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