Journal Article

The Predictive Power of Self-Control for Life Outcomes

Published: 2022

This study investigates the predictive power of self-control for individuals and their children using population representative data. We use the well-established Brief Self-Control Scale to demonstrate that people’s trait self-control is highly predictive of their life outcomes. Higher self-control is associated with better health, education, and employment outcomes as well as greater financial and overall well-being. Importantly, self-control often adds explanatory power in addition to more frequently studied personality traits and economic preferences. The self-control of children is correlated with that of their parents, while higher parental self-control is also linked to fewer behavioral problems among children. Our results suggest that social interventions targeting self-control may be beneficial.


Cobb-Clark, D.A., Dahmann, S.C., Kamhofer, D.A., Schildberg-Horisch, H. (2022) The Predictive Power of Self-Control For Life Outcomes, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 197, (May 2022), 725-744,