This study investigates how cognitive and non-cognitive personality traits, and economic preference parameters, such as risk aversion and impatience, relate to each other and to characteristics pertaining to the individual, family and society paying special attention to the role played by circumstances and responsibilities as the result of individuals’ effort. The analysis uses data about cognitive abilities, non-cognitive personality traits, economic preferences and the socio-economic circumstances of a sample of High School leavers in the Veneto region, located in the North-East of Italy, and two samples of university students, one covering the nation as a whole and the other from the University of Verona. We show that it is both feasible and reliable to elicit risk and time attitudes in field experiments. The study of the relations linking cognitive skills, non-cognitive traits, economic parameters and socio-economic circumstances has revealed interesting regularities.
Key words: Cognitive abilities, Non-cognitive traits, Risk and time preferences, School performance,
Reservation wages, Equality of opportunity, Circumstances, Responsibility, Effort.
JEL Classification: I20, J24, K4.