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Do Universities Shape Their Students' Personality?

Stefanie Schurer (), Sonja de New and Felix Leung

No 8873, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)

Abstract: We investigate whether universities select by, or also shape, their students' personality, as implied by the human capital investment model. Using a nationally representative sample of Australian adolescents followed over eight years, we find that youth conscientiousness, internal locus of control, and low extraversion strongly predict the probability of obtaining a university degree. However, university education does not shape those personality traits associated with a strong work ethic and intellect. Yet, it offsets a general decline in extraversion as individuals age and boosts the development of agreeableness for men from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our findings contribute to the discussion whether universities should teach their students broader skills.

Keywords: university education; Big-Five personality traits; psychic cost; inequality; change in personality (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I12 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 42 pages
Date: 2015-02
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-edu and nep-sog
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