The Character Skills of Immigrants

38 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2020

See all articles by Moiz Bhai

Moiz Bhai

University of Arkansas at Little Rock - Department of Economics

Pavel Dramski

New American Economy

Date Written: May 14, 2018


We use novel data on a representative sample of the U.S. population to examine how immigrants and second-generation immigrants compare to natives on non-cognitive character skills as measured by a common taxonomy of personality. Our findings reveal that immigrants and second-generation immigrants tend to have higher levels of openness to experience and agency than natives. Additionally, second-generation immigrants have higher levels of conscientiousness than natives. The findings are especially salient since character skills have been shown to influence labor market outcomes. Next, we examine the role of character skills differences on earnings by immigrant generation. Our earnings estimates reveal that non-cognitive skills have approximately as much explanatory power as schooling, yet non-cognitive skills have a modest impact on the earnings differences of immigrants and second-generation immigrants vis-a-vis natives.

Keywords: Immigration, Immigrants, Second-Generation Immigrants, Non-Cognitive Skills, Five Factor Model, Big Five, Personality, Character Traits, Soft Skills, Socioemotional Skills.

JEL Classification: J61, J24, J48

Suggested Citation

Bhai, Moiz and Dramski, Pavel, The Character Skills of Immigrants (May 14, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Moiz Bhai (Contact Author)

University of Arkansas at Little Rock - Department of Economics ( email )

Little Rock, AR 72205
United States

Pavel Dramski

New American Economy

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics