This week I will be featuring a few of the papers delivered at the European Association of Labour Economics 2007 annual conference, held in Oslo last month. The first is a fascinating Finnish paper, Personality Traits and Earnings: Evidence from Finland (PDF), which used longitudinal survey data to examine whether personality traits have any impact on earnings. Written by Jutta Viinikainen, Katja Kokko, Lea Pulkkinen, Jaakko Pehkonen from the University of Jyväskylä, looked at five personality traits: neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experiences. They conclude that "extraversion has a significant positive effect on earnings when gender, education, work experience and unemployment history ..are controlled for.
The other four personality traits appear not to matter. Nor did the authors find any gender differences in personality traits and earnings.
Of all five personality traits only extraversion turned out to have a significant impact on earnings. According to the results a rise in an extraversion score by one point is associated with an increase of about 17 percent in wages. A person high in extraversion is typically outgoing, enthusiastic, active, and assertive. The results thus suggest that these characteristics are valuable in the labor market.
Somewhat surprisingly, conscientiousness turned out to have no effect on earnings after gender, years of education and work experience along with career-related variables were controlled for (see Tokar et al. 1998). As conscientiousness can be described by adjectives such as responsible, reliable and organized, it might be expected that more conscientious workers would have higher earnings. However, according to our results this is not the case.
Do extroverts have more fun? Who knows. But they certainly appear to be paid more.