Personality Characteristics, Educational Attainment and Wages: An Economic Analysis Using the British Cohort Study

Pamela Lenton

Abstract

We look at the influence of personality traits and cognitive ability on both educational attainment and on the wages of individuals in the UK labour market at age 33 using the British Cohort Study. We control for a new cluster of nine personality characteristics, some of which we consider likely to influence labour market outcomes. We find that some personality characteristics have significant influence on the acquisition of educational qualifications, in particular internal and external locus of control, conscientiousness and extroversion. Our findings on the extrovert-introvert dimension of personality are paradoxical: we find that males with extrovert personalities have a significantly reduced probability of gaining degree level education, but within the labour market males are rewarded for this characteristic.