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The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior

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  • James J. Heckman
  • Jora Stixrud
  • Sergio Urzua

Abstract

This paper establishes that a low dimensional vector of cognitive and noncognitive skills explains a variety of labor market and behavioral outcomes. For many dimensions of social performance cognitive and noncognitive skills are equally important. Our analysis addresses the problems of measurement error, imperfect proxies, and reverse causality that plague conventional studies of cognitive and noncognitive skills that regress earnings (and other outcomes) on proxies for skills. Noncognitive skills strongly influence schooling decisions, and also affect wages given schooling decisions. Schooling, employment, work experience and choice of occupation are affected by latent noncognitive and cognitive skills. We study a variety of correlated risky behaviors such as teenage pregnancy and marriage, smoking, marijuana use, and participation in illegal activities. The same low dimensional vector of abilities that explains schooling choices, wages, employment, work experience and choice of occupation explains these behavioral outcomes.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12006.

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Date of creation: Feb 2006
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12006

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  1. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Roger Klein & Richard H. Spady & Andrew Weiss, 1987. "Factors Affecting the Output and Quit Propensities of Production Workers," NBER Working Papers 2184, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Heckman, James J. & Navarro, Salvador, 2007. "Dynamic discrete choice and dynamic treatment effects," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 136(2), pages 341-396, February.
  4. Goldsmith, Arthur H & Veum, Jonathan R & Darity, William, Jr, 1997. "The Impact of Psychological and Human Capital on Wages," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(4), pages 815-29, October.
  5. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance, 2006. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  6. James J. Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2005. "Structural Equations, Treatment Effects, and Econometric Policy Evaluation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(3), pages 669-738, 05.
  7. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-95, October.
  8. Hansen, Karsten T & Heckman, James J & Mullen, Kathleen J, 2003. "The effect of schooling and ability on achievement test scores," Working Paper Series 2003:13, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  9. Pedro Carneiro & James J. Heckman & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2003. "Labor Market Discrimination and Racial Differences in Premarket Factors," NBER Working Papers 10068, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2006. "A New Framework for the Analysis of Inequality," NBER Working Papers 12505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Browning, Martin & Hansen, Lars Peter & Heckman, James J., 1999. "Micro data and general equilibrium models," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 543-633 Elsevier.
  12. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Dynamics of Educational Attainment for Black, Hispanic, and White Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 455-499, June.
  13. Spence, A Michael, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-74, August.
  14. Groves, Melissa Osborne, 2005. "How important is your personality? Labor market returns to personality for women in the US and UK," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 827-841, December.
  15. Gottlieb, Daniel & Moreira, Humberto Ataíde & Araújo, Aloísio Pessoa de, 2004. "A model of mixed signals with applications to countersignaling an the GED," Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 553, FGV/EPGE Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
  16. Melissa Osborne & Herbert Gintis & Samuel Bowles, 2001. "The Determinants of Earnings: A Behavioral Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1137-1176, December.
  17. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1998. "Life Cycle Schooling and Dynamic Selection Bias: Models and Evidence for Five Cohorts of American Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 262-333, April.
  18. Yona Rubinstein & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Importance of Noncognitive Skills: Lessons from the GED Testing Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 145-149, May.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Using Measures of Non-Cognitive Ability in Economics
    by Martin Ryan in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2009-03-18 16:29:00
  2. ???????
    by hisakijapan in hkonoの日記 on 2011-04-14 20:23:01
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