Inequality in Personality over the Life Cycle
65 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2020 Last revised: 21 Jan 2021
Date Written: December 4, 2020
We document gender and socioeconomic inequalities in personality over the life cycle (age 18-75), using the Big Five 2 (BFI-2) inventory linked to administrative data on a large Danish population. We estimate life-cycle profiles non-parametrically and adjust for cohort and sample-selection effects. We find that: (1) Women of all ages score more highly than men on all personality traits, including three that are positively associated with wages; (2) High-education groups score more favorably on Openness to Experience, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism than low-education groups, while there is no socioeconomic inequality by Conscientiousness; (3) Over the life cycle, gender and socioeconomic gaps remain constant, with two exceptions: the gender and SES gaps in Openness to Experience widen, while gender dierences in Neuroticism, a trait associated with worse outcomes, diminish with age.
We discuss the implications of these findings in the context of gender wage gaps, household production models, and optimal taxation.
Keywords: inequality, personality, big five-2 inventory, life cycle dynamics, gender disadvantage, socioeconomic disadvantage
JEL Classification: J24, I24, J62, I31, J16
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