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Who gets ahead in life? Personality traits and childhood background in economic success

Petri J. Kajonius and Anders Carlander

Journal of Economic Psychology, 2017, vol. 59, issue C, 164-170

Abstract: In many societies around the world, the ideal is that anyone can achieve a successful life independent of family background. An indication of such social mobility could be that personality characteristics have stronger impact than childhood background on economic success. The present study investigated how much of life outcomes (i.e., educational attainment, annual income, and life outcome satisfaction) were accounted for by adult personality traits (the Big Five), when controlled for childhood socio-economic status (SES). The results from a large, representative Swedish sample (N=5280) showed that personality traits (especially neuroticism) were associated as much as or more than childhood SES to annual income and life outcome satisfaction, whereas childhood SES related more to educational attainment. These results may help facilitate our understanding of the mechanisms behind individual economic success.

Keywords: Personality; Socio-economic status; Life satisfaction; Childhood background (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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