Self-Control: Determinants, Life Outcomes and Intergenerational Implications

83 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2019

See all articles by Deborah A. Cobb-Clark

Deborah A. Cobb-Clark

School of Economics, University of Sydney; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Sarah C. Dahmann

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; University of Melbourne - ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course

Daniel Kamhöfer

University of Duisburg-Essen

Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch

Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: July 2019

Abstract

This paper studies self-control in a nationally representative sample. Using the well-established Tangney scale to measure trait self-control, we find that people’s age as well as the political and economic institutions they are exposed to have an economically meaningful impact on their level of self-control. A higher degree of self-control is, in turn, associated with better health, educational and labor market outcomes as well as greater financial and overall well-being. Parents’ self-control is linked to reduced behavioral problems among their children. Importantly, we demonstrate that self-control is a key behavioral economic construct which adds significant explanatory power beyond other more commonly studied personality traits and economic preference parameters. Our results suggest that self-control is potentially a good target for intervention policies.

Keywords: self-control, Tangney scale, personality traits, intergenerational transmission

JEL Classification: D91, J24

Suggested Citation

Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. and Dahmann, Sarah C. and Kamhöfer, Daniel and Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah, Self-Control: Determinants, Life Outcomes and Intergenerational Implications (July 2019). IZA Discussion Paper No. 12488, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3427627

Deborah A. Cobb-Clark (Contact Author)

School of Economics, University of Sydney ( email )

606 Social Sciences Bldg. (A02)
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia
61435061387 (Phone)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

Sarah C. Dahmann

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research ( email )

Level 5, FBE Building, 111 Barry Street
Parkville, Victoria 3010
Australia

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

University of Melbourne - ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course

Daniel Kamhöfer

University of Duisburg-Essen ( email )

Lotharstrasse 1
Duisburg, 47048
Germany

Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch

Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf ( email )

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

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

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