Does it Pay to Be Nice? Personality and Earnings in the UK

Posted: 17 Oct 2011

See all articles by Guido Heineck

Guido Heineck

University of Bamberg; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: October 1, 2011


The author examines the relationship between individuals' personality traits and labor market success in the United Kingdom using data from the British Household Panel Study (BHPS). With longitudinal individuals' earnings information as well as psychological profile data of respondents specifically from the 2005 wave, he is able to ascertain the extent to which basic traits from the Five Factor Personality Inventory -- openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism -- affect wages. Results indicate a positive relationship between openness to experience and wages, but a negative linear relationship between wages and agreeableness, and for females, between wages and neuroticism. Although there is no convincing evidence for an association between extraversion and earnings, there is a nonlinear gradient for conscientiousness. Moreover, there are no joint effects of personality and tenure. The study does support the suggestion that the associations found are causal.

Keywords: Personality, Five Factor Model, Wages, UK

JEL Classification: J30

Suggested Citation

Heineck, Guido, Does it Pay to Be Nice? Personality and Earnings in the UK (October 1, 2011). Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 64, No. 5, 2011, Available at SSRN:

Guido Heineck (Contact Author)

University of Bamberg

Feldkirchenstr. 21
Bamberg, 96052

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

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