Inequality in Personality over the Life Cycle

65 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2020 Last revised: 21 Jan 2021

See all articles by Miriam Gensowski

Miriam Gensowski

University of Copenhagen

Mette Gørtz

University of Copenhagen, Department of Economics; IZA

Stefanie Schurer

The University of Sydney

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

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 di erences 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

Suggested Citation

Gensowski, Miriam and Gørtz, Mette and Schurer, Stefanie, Inequality in Personality over the Life Cycle (December 4, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Miriam Gensowski (Contact Author)

University of Copenhagen ( email )

Nørregade 10
Copenhagen, København DK-1165

Mette Gørtz

University of Copenhagen, Department of Economics ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5
Copenhagen, 1354
+4535323014 (Phone)


IZA ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

HOME PAGE: http://

Stefanie Schurer

The University of Sydney ( email )

Sydney, 2006

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