Do Neets Need Grit?

35 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2015

See all articles by Silvia Mendolia

Silvia Mendolia

University of Aberdeen

Ian Walker

University of Warwick - Department of Economics; Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS); IZA Institute of Labor Economics


This paper investigates the relationship between personality traits in adolescence and education and labour market choices. In particular, we investigate the impact of grit (a tendency and ability to sustain interest in long term goals - perseverance) on the risk of youths being NEET – "Not in Education, Employment or Training". Thus, our focus is on early drop-out from the labour market and education at age 18-20. Individuals with high levels of grit are less likely to be out of education or employment, while low self-esteem and external locus of control increase the chances of experiencing these conditions.We use propensity score matching to control for a rich set of adolescent and family characteristics and our results show that personality traits do affect education and employment choices. We test the robustness of our results using the methodology proposed by Altonji et al. (2005) that consists of making hypotheses about the correlation between the unobservables and observables that determine the outcomes and the unobservables that influence personality.

Keywords: personality, NEET, grit, locus of control, self-esteem

JEL Classification: I10, I21

Suggested Citation

Mendolia, Silvia and Walker, Ian, Do Neets Need Grit?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 8740, Available at SSRN:

Silvia Mendolia (Contact Author)

University of Aberdeen ( email )

Dunbar Street
Aberdeen, Scotland AB24 3QY
United Kingdom
0044 1224 272182 (Phone)

Ian Walker

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom
+44 1203 523 054 (Phone)
+44 1203 523 032 (Fax)

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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