Unemployment Duration and Personality Traits

Journal of Economic Psychology32, pp980-992 2011


This paper focuses on the role personality traits play in determining individual unemployment duration. We argue that a worker’s job search intensity is decisively driven by her personality traits, reflected in her propensity to motivate and control herself while searching for a job. Moreover, personality traits, in as far as they can be signaled to a potential employer, may also enhance the probability of receiving and accepting a job offer.

For our econometric duration analysis, we use the well-accepted taxonomy “Big Five” to classify personality traits. Based on individual unemployment data taken from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) our empirical findings reveal that the personality traits Conscientiousness and Neuroticism have a strong impact on the instantaneous probability of finding a job, where the former has a positive effect and the latter has a negative effect. The direction of the effect on the subsequent employment duration is the opposite. We do not find any significant effects of the personality traits Extraversion and Agreeableness on the duration of unemployment. The personality trait Openness eases finding a job only for female unemployed workers and workers with migration background.

Winfried Pohlmeier
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