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How Cognitive Ability and Personality Traits Affect Geographic Mobility

Aline Bütikofer and Giovanni Peri ()

Journal of Labor Economics, 2021, vol. 39, issue 2, 559 - 595

Abstract: Noncognitive characteristics and personality traits can be strong predictors of economic and social outcomes of individuals. In this paper, using data on cognitive ability and psychologist-assessed “sociability” and “adaptability” linked to administrative data for the male 1932–33 birth cohort in Norway, we analyze how these three characteristics affect men’s probability to migrate across labor markets. We find that higher adaptability, the capacity to adjust to new environments and situations, and higher cognitive ability are significant predictors of the probability to migrate. Adaptability is a particularly strong migration predictor for individuals with low cognitive ability or low socioeconomic background.

Date: 2021
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