Conscientiousness and Mortality: An Exploration of Mechanisms Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics

Amelia Karraker, University of Michigan
Robert Schoeni, University of Michigan

Growing evidence suggests connections between conscientiousness and health and mortality. Little work, however, has examined the impact of conscientiousness on health into older ages, though its health benefits may accrue over time, or the relative importance of the pathways through which conscientiousness shapes health. This is surprising given that conscientiousness is an important predictor of wages, employment, risky behaviors, and family formation, and these factors are also all strongly linked to health. Moreover, almost all of the existing evidence is based on highly select samples. We address these gaps by using almost 40 years of data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine the relationship between conscientiousness measured in 1972 and subsequent mortality through 2009. We also assess the role of socioeconomic status attainment, marital status, and health behaviors as mechanisms in this relationship. Preliminary results indicate that conscientiousness is associated with subsequent mortality independent of other factors.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Poster Session 8: Adult Health and Mortality