Personality and Mental Health: The Role and Substitution Effect of Emotional Stability and Conscientiousness

38 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2016

See all articles by Caroline Wehner

Caroline Wehner

IZA

Trudie Schils

Maastricht University, Dept Economics; Amsterdam Institute of Advanced Labour Studies

Lex Borghans

Maastricht University - Department of Economics; University of Maastricht - Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

A growing number of economic studies show that low emotional stability is typically negatively related to socioeconomic outcomes, while conscientiousness predicts desirable results. However, possible mechanisms behind these relations are far less explored. Gaining insights into the mechanisms is important, because this knowledge is crucial to develop pre- and intervention programs. We address this research gap by analyzing the relation between low emotional stability and mental ill-health as well as the possible substitution effect of conscientiousness both theoretically and empirically. Using the British Cohort Study, we find that low emotional stability at ages 10 and 16 significantly predicts mental ill-health at ages 16, 26, 30, 34 and 42 and that more conscientiousness significantly mitigates the negative relation between low emotional stability and mental health. Our results suggest that particularly both low emotionally stable and low conscientious individuals are more likely to experience mental ill-health related to a reduced problem-solving ability.

Keywords: mental health, personality differences, health inequality, child development, socioeconomic disadvantage

JEL Classification: D03, I12, I14, I18, I24

Suggested Citation

Wehner, Caroline and Schils, Trudie and Borghans, Lex, Personality and Mental Health: The Role and Substitution Effect of Emotional Stability and Conscientiousness. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10337. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2864838

Trudie Schils

Maastricht University, Dept Economics ( email )

P.O.Box 616
Maastricht, 6200 MD
Netherlands
+31 43 3883891 (Phone)
+31 43 3884150 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.trudieschils.nl

Amsterdam Institute of Advanced Labour Studies ( email )

PLantage Muidergracht 12
Amsterdam, 1018 TV
Netherlands
+31 20 5254199 (Phone)
+31 20 5254301 (Fax)

Lex Borghans

Maastricht University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200 MD
Netherlands

University of Maastricht - Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, MD6200
Netherlands

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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