Nov 12, 2011

Unemployment duration and personality

This is from the paper Unemployment Duration and Personality by Uysal and Pohlmeier, published in the December 2011 number of the Journal of Economic Psychology.  
[W]orker’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.
This is the Wikipedia definition of Conscientiousness
[I]s the trait of being painstaking and careful, or the quality of acting according to the dictates of one's conscience. It includes such elements as self-discipline, carefulness, thoroughness, organization, deliberation (the tendency to think carefully before acting), and need for achievement. It is an aspect of what has traditionally been called character. Conscientious individuals are generally hard working and reliable. When taken to an extreme, they may also be workaholics, perfectionists, and compulsive in their behavior. People who are low on conscientiousness are not necessarily lazy or immoral, but they tend to be more laid back, less goal oriented, and less driven by success.

This is the Wikipedia definition of Neuroticism
It is an enduring tendency to experience negative emotional states. Individuals who score high on neuroticism are more likely than the average to experience such feelings as anxiety, anger, guilt, and depressed mood. They respond more poorly to environmentalstress, and are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening, and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult. They are often self-conscious and shy, and they may have trouble controlling urges and delaying gratification. Neuroticism is associated with low emotional intelligence, which involves emotional regulation, motivation, andinterpersonal skills. It is also a risk factor for "internalizing" mental disorders such as phobia, depression, panic disorder, and other anxiety disorders (traditionally called neuroses).
If unemployment is also a cause of neuroticism, one can suspect the presence of poverty traps here . . . I don't know if that is the case.   

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