Our aim in this paper is to investigate whether and how the geographical clustering of individual personality traits at the urban level can contribute to our understanding of the variation in economic structure and performances across cities, over and above the standard determinants that have been offered by the literature. We do so by exploiting data on aggregate personality traits derived from inhabitants of 63 major British cities. More specifically, we analyse the relevance of personality traits, measured by the so-called ‘Big Five’ domains developed by psychologists, for the economic structure, resilience and long term regional economic performance of these cities. We use the unique data set from Rentfrow et al (2015), that consists of the Big Five personality scores of more than 400,000 UK residents, and combine this data with a detailed economic dataset for 63 UK cities ranging from 1981 to 2011 constructed by Martin et al. (2014). Our two main general findings are first that local personality traits matter and add explanatory power over and above more standard determinants of local economic outcomes. Second, our study is among the first to systematically address the issue of causality in the relationship between personality traits and outcomes. By addressing this issue, our results support the general idea that the ‘Big Five’ personality characteristics exert an independent influence on economic outcomes. Joint with Janka Stoker, Dimitrios Soudis, Ron Martin and Jason Rentfrow.
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