Personality, Lifetime Earnings, and Retirement Wealth

21 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2010

See all articles by Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Psychology

David Weir

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Institute for Social Research (ISR)

Date Written: October 1, 2010

Abstract

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?

Suggested Citation

Duckworth, Angela and Weir, David, Personality, Lifetime Earnings, and Retirement Wealth (October 1, 2010). Michigan Retirement Research Center Research Paper No. 2010-235, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1710166 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1710166

Angela Duckworth (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Psychology ( email )

3815 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6196
United States

David Weir

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Institute for Social Research (ISR) ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248
United States

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