Personality traits, forgone health care and high school dropout: Evidence from US adolescents


Migali, Giuseppe & Zucchelli, Eugenio (2017). Personality traits, forgone health care and high school dropout: Evidence from US adolescents. Journal of Economic Psychology. vol. 62 pp. 98-119


There is sparse evidence on the effects of personality traits on high school dropout, especially on whether combinations of different traits may uniquely influence dropout decisions. We employ single and multiple treatment matching together with rich data on US adolescents to explore the relationship between personality traits and their combinations on school attrition. Using the Big Five inventory, we find that introversion, and to a lesser extent neuroticism, are individually associated with higher probabilities of dropping out from school. Multiple treatment estimates show that blends of low levels of conscientiousness and neuroticism present higher likelihoods of an early exit. Furthermore, we exploit information on forgone health care and explore its role as a predictor of dropout, potentially proxying relevant traits associated with psychological maturity of judgement such as responsibility, perspective and temperance. These traits refer to the capacity of assessing the long-term consequences of actions and may influence an individual’s decision-making process, including dropout choices. Forgone health care appears to be a statistically significant predictor of dropout throughout our models. Individuals who forgo their health care and present low conscientiousness and introversion have the highest risk of dropout. Overall, our results are robust to alternative specifications and increasing levels of selection on unobservables. We suggest that given its predictive power, forgone health care could be used as a signalling device to help identifying individuals at higher risk of school dropout.



Personality traits Forgone health care High school dropout Multiple treatment matching

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Journal of Economic Psychology


Migali, Giuseppe
Zucchelli, Eugenio

Year Published


Volume Number





June 24, 2017



Reference ID