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Psychol Sci. 2015 Jun;26(6):709-23. doi: 10.1177/0956797615569001. Epub 2015 Apr 13.

Childhood self-control and unemployment throughout the life span: evidence from two British cohort studies.

Author information

1
Behavioural Science Centre, University of Stirling UCD Geary Institute, University College Dublin michael.daly@stir.ac.uk.
2
Behavioural Science Centre, University of Stirling UCD Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
3
Behavioural Science Centre, University of Stirling.
4
Department of Psychology, Florida State University King Abdulaziz University.

Abstract

The capacity for self-control may underlie successful labor-force entry and job retention, particularly in times of economic uncertainty. Analyzing unemployment data from two nationally representative British cohorts (N = 16,780), we found that low self-control in childhood was associated with the emergence and persistence of unemployment across four decades. On average, a 1-SD increase in self-control was associated with a reduction in the probability of unemployment of 1.4 percentage points after adjustment for intelligence, social class, and gender. From labor-market entry to middle age, individuals with low self-control experienced 1.6 times as many months of unemployment as those with high self-control. Analysis of monthly unemployment data before and during the 1980s recession showed that individuals with low self-control experienced the greatest increases in unemployment during the recession. Our results underscore the critical role of self-control in shaping life-span trajectories of occupational success and in affecting how macroeconomic conditions affect unemployment levels in the population.

KEYWORDS:

economic recession; human capital; open data; open materials; personality; self-control; unemployment

PMID:
25870404
PMCID:
PMC4512256
DOI:
10.1177/0956797615569001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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