Explaining personality pay gaps in the UK

Cheti Nicoletti, Alita Nandi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using the British Household Panel Survey we estimate the effect on pay of each of the Big Five personality traits for employed men living in the UK. We add to the existing literature by estimating the role of factors such as education and occupation in explaining personality pay gaps, by allowing the personality traits to affect wage differently across occupations, education levels and other workers characteristics, and by investigating personality pay gaps for high and low paid workers. We find that openness to experience is the most relevant personality trait in explaining wages followed by neuroticism, agreeableness, extroversion and conscientiousness. Openness and extroversion are rewarded while agreeableness and neuroticism are penalized but the openness pay gap is totally explained by differences in worker characteristics, particularly education and occupation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3131-3150
Number of pages20
JournalApplied Economics
Issue number26
Early online date2 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2014


  • Big Five
  • Decomposition
  • Non-cognitive skills
  • Personality traits
  • Wage

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