Monday, February 02, 2009

The Development of Personality Over the Life Cycle

Bart Golsteyn will be giving a seminar at 1pm in Geary tomorrow on "Economics and Personality." Borgahns and Golsteyn (2008) have done some work with the DBN Dutch panel data to examine whether changes in personality are related to changes in outcomes and/or specific events and activities during the life cycle.

They report that individuals become more extraverted, conscientious and emotionally stable across the life course. Openness to experience has a hump-shaped relation with age. Risk aversion increases dramatically after adolescence but remains relatively stable thereafter. They also report that individuals who start their college education become more extraverted and agreeable but less emotionally stable and conscientious.

In addition, Borgahns and Golsteyn report that time preference has a U-shaped relation with age: adolescents have very high time preference, then at 36 years of age time preference reaches its minimum, after which it increases again. This is the first longitudinal evidence that we know exists on time preferences. As we mentioned on the blog before, no longitudinal study has previously measured the mean-level stability of time preference over the life cycle, according to Frederick et al. (2002).

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