Earnings Are Greater and Increasing in Occupations That Require Intellectual Tenacity

29 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2023 Last revised: 11 Jan 2024

See all articles by Christos Makridis

Christos Makridis

Stanford University; Institute for the Future (IFF), Department of Digital Innovation, School of Business, University of Nicosia; Arizona State University (ASU); Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Louis Hickman

Virginia Tech

Date Written: February 20, 2023

Abstract

Automation and technology are rapidly disrupting the labor market. We investigated changes in the returns to occupational personality requirements---the ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving that enable success in a given occupation---and the resulting implications for organizational strategy. Using job incumbent ratings from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Information Network (O*NET), we identify two broad occupational personality requirements, which we label intellectual tenacity and social adjustment. Intellectual tenacity encompasses achievement/effort, persistence, initiative, analytical thinking, innovation, and independence. Social adjustment encompasses emotion regulation, concern for others, social orientation, cooperation, and stress tolerance. Both occupational personality requirements relate similarly to occupational employment growth between 2007 and 2019. However, among over 10 million respondents to the American Community Survey, jobs requiring intellectual tenacity pay higher wages---even controlling for occupational cognitive ability requirements---and the earnings premium grew over this 13-year period. Results are robust to controlling for education, demographics, and industry effects, suggesting that organizations should pay at least as much attention to personality in the hiring and retention process as skills.

Keywords: Earnings, Personality, Non-Cognitive, Human Capital, Future of Work

JEL Classification: J21, J23, J24, J31

Suggested Citation

Makridis, Christos and Hickman, Louis, Earnings Are Greater and Increasing in Occupations That Require Intellectual Tenacity (February 20, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4365176 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4365176

Christos Makridis (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Institute for the Future (IFF), Department of Digital Innovation, School of Business, University of Nicosia ( email )

Nicosia, 2417
Cyprus

Arizona State University (ASU) ( email )

Farmer Building 440G PO Box 872011
Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) ( email )

810 Vermont Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20420
United States

Louis Hickman

Virginia Tech

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