Childhood circumstances, personality traits and adult-life economic outcomes in developing countries: Evidence from STEP

29 September 2017

This paper studies the associations between childhood circumstances (e.g. parental background, early-life socio-economic status, negative economic shocks during childhood, etc.), personality traits (the Big Five, grit) and adult-life economic outcomes (educational attainment, employment opportunity, wages, life satisfaction, and obesity) in nine developing countries. The data come from the World Bank’s STEP Skills Measurement Survey conducted over 2012-2013. Our results show that childhood circumstances are associated more strongly than personality traits with education and wages. Agreeableness, and neuroticism are relatively strong correlates of life satisfaction in developing countries, as compared with early-life socio-economic status. Grit is not significantly related to adult-life outcomes, when other personality traits are controlled for. Obesity is positively associated with extraversion and neuroticism, while childhood circumstances do not predict it.

keywords: childhood circumstances, personality, grit, education, employment, life satisfaction, obesity, developing countries, STEP
JEL codes: 
publication year: 2017
language: english
Publications category: 
publishing series: IBS Working Paper
publication number: 05/2017
ISSN: 2451-4373
Additional information:

I would like to thank Piotr Lewandowski (Institute for Structural Research) for helpful suggestions. This paper was financially supported by the Network for Jobs and Development under the auspices of the World Bank. The usual disclaimers apply. All errors are mine.

Projects related to this publication:

University of Warsaw, Faculty of Economic Sciences

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