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The power of personality: Labor market rewards and the transmission of earnings

Melissa Anne Osborne, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation research examines the influence of personality and behavioral traits on economic success using the National Longitudinal Surveys and the National Child Development Study. The first essay investigates the ability of personality to explain why apparently similar people have varied success in the labor market. Results suggest that personality is a significant determinant of labor market success and offers a unique and valuable contribution to our explanation of labor market outcomes. The second essay designs and estimates a behavioral model of the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status. This model allows me to estimate the magnitude of the contribution of personality to the intergenerational transmission of earnings and to elucidate the process by which personality helps to explain social mobility. The final essay investigates how the returns to personality differ according to sex, or position in the occupational hierarchy. The results suggest that while personality traits are important for both men and women, the reward structures are distinct.

Subject Area

Labor economics|Personality

Recommended Citation

Osborne, Melissa Anne, "The power of personality: Labor market rewards and the transmission of earnings" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9988828.