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Test scores, noncognitive skills and economic growth

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  • Balart, Pau
  • Oosterveen, Matthijs
  • Webbink, Dinand

Abstract

Many studies have found a strong association between economic outcomes of nations and their performance on international cognitive tests. This association is often interpreted as evidence for the importance of cognitive skills for economic growth. However, noncognitive skills also affect performance on cognitive tests. Following Borghans and Schils (2012), we exploit exogenous variation in the ordering of questions asked by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to decompose student performance into two components: the starting performance and the decline in performance during the test. The latter component is interpreted as a measure of noncognitive skills. Students from different countries exhibit differences in performance at the start of the test and in their rates of deterioration in performance during the test. Both components have a positive and statistically significant association with economic growth, and the estimated effects are quite similar and robust. Our results show that noncognitive skills are also important for the relationship between test scores and economic growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Balart, Pau & Oosterveen, Matthijs & Webbink, Dinand, 2018. "Test scores, noncognitive skills and economic growth," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 134-153.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:63:y:2018:i:c:p:134-153
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2017.12.004
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    4. Marianna Battaglia & Marisa Hidalgo-Hidalgo, 2020. "Non-Cognitive Skills and Remedial Education: Good News for Girls," Working Papers 20.10, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Department of Economics.
    5. Anna Thum-Thysen & Rossella Cravetto & Jan Varchola, 2021. "Investing in People’s Competences A Cornerstone for Growth and Wellbeing in the EU," European Economy - Discussion Papers 2015 - 139, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    6. Esther Ulitzsch & Qiwei He & Vincent Ulitzsch & Hendrik Molter & André Nichterlein & Rolf Niedermeier & Steffi Pohl, 2021. "Combining Clickstream Analyses and Graph-Modeled Data Clustering for Identifying Common Response Processes," Psychometrika, Springer;The Psychometric Society, vol. 86(1), pages 190-214, March.
    7. Brunello, Giorgio & Crema, Angela & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2018. "Some unpleasant consequences of testing at length," GLO Discussion Paper Series 286, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    8. Peter Voigt & Anna Thum-Thysen & Wouter Simons, 2020. "The Economic Benefits of Improving Efficiency in Public Spending on Education in the European Union," European Economy - Economic Briefs 056, Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN), European Commission.
    9. Brunello, Giorgio & Crema, Angela & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2018. "Testing at Length If It Is Cognitive or Non-Cognitive," IZA Discussion Papers 11603, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cognitive skills; Noncognitive skills; Long run economic growth;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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