The Impact of Long-Run Macroeconomic Experiences on Personality

SAFE Working Paper No. 142

31 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2016

See all articles by Nathanael Vellekoop

Nathanael Vellekoop

University of Toronto; Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE; Netspar

Date Written: August 31, 2016


Using two datasets containing demographically representative samples of the Dutch population, I study how lifetime experiences of aggregate labor market conditions affect personality. Three sets of findings are reported. First, experienced aggregate unemployment is negatively correlated with the levels of all Big Five personality traits, except for conscientiousness (no significant correlation). Second, in panel data models with individual fixed effects I find that changes in experienced aggregate unemployment cause changes in emotional stability and agreeableness for men, and conscientiousness for women. The correlation is positive, and effects are economically large. Thirdly, I report suggestive evidence that the main driver is experienced aggregate unemployment, instead of other macroeconomic variables as experienced GDP, stock market returns or inflation. Taken together, these findings suggest that changes in Big Five personality traits are systematically related to experienced aggregate labor market conditions.

Keywords: Personality traits, Big Five, Locus of control, labor market, unemployment

JEL Classification: D01, D12, E23, E32

Suggested Citation

Vellekoop, Nathanael, The Impact of Long-Run Macroeconomic Experiences on Personality (August 31, 2016). SAFE Working Paper No. 142, Available at SSRN: or

Nathanael Vellekoop (Contact Author)

University of Toronto ( email )

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150 St George st
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G7


Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE ( email )

Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 3
Frankfurt am Main, 60323

Netspar ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE


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