Do Universities Shape Their Students' Personality?

42 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2015

See all articles by Stefanie Schurer

Stefanie Schurer

Victoria University of Wellington - School of Economics and Finance

Sonja C. Kassenboehmer

Monash University - Centre for Health Economics

Felix Leung

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute (MIAESR)

Abstract

We investigate whether universities select by, or also shape, their students' personality, as implied by the human capital investment model. Using a nationally representative sample of Australian adolescents followed over eight years, we find that youth conscientiousness, internal locus of control, and low extraversion strongly predict the probability of obtaining a university degree. However, university education does not shape those personality traits associated with a strong work ethic and intellect. Yet, it offsets a general decline in extraversion as individuals age and boosts the development of agreeableness for men from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our findings contribute to the discussion whether universities should teach their students broader skills.

Keywords: university education, Big-Five personality traits, psychic cost, inequality, change in personality

JEL Classification: I12, J24

Suggested Citation

Schurer, Stefanie and Kassenboehmer, Sonja C. and Leung, Felix, Do Universities Shape Their Students' Personality?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 8873. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2575053

Stefanie Schurer (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington - School of Economics and Finance ( email )

P.O. Box 600
Wellington 6001
New Zealand
+64-4-4636708 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/sef/staff/stefanie-schurer.aspx

Sonja C. Kassenboehmer

Monash University - Centre for Health Economics ( email )

Building 75, 15 Innovation Walk
Monash University
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

Felix Leung

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute (MIAESR) ( email )

Level 5, FBE Building, 111 Barry Street
161 Barry Street
Carlton, VIC 3053
Australia

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