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The College Type: Personality and Educational Inequality

  • Shelly Lundberg

I examine the effects of cognitive ability and personality traits on college graduation in a recent cohort of young Americans, and how the returns to these traits vary by family background, and find very substantial differences across family background groups in the personality traits that predict successful completion of college, particularly for men. The implications are twofold. First, the returns to noncognitive traits may be highly context dependent. Second, policy discussion concerning educational inequality should include not just the possibilities for remediating the skill levels of poor children, but also approaches to changing the environments that limit their opportunities.

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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.1086/671056
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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/671056
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Labor Economics.

Volume (Year): 31 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 421 - 441

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:doi:10.1086/671056
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JOLE/

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  1. Mathilde Almlund & Angela Lee Duckworth & James J. Heckman & Tim D. Kautz, 2011. "Personality Psychology and Economics," NBER Working Papers 16822, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Schennach, Susanne, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 4702, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Shelly Lundberg, 2010. "Personality and Marital Surplus," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 307, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  4. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," NBER Working Papers 12006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Nandi, Alita & Nicoletti, Cheti, 2009. "Explaining personality pay gaps in the UK," ISER Working Paper Series 2009-22, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  7. Erik Lindqvist & Roine Vestman, 2011. "The Labor Market Returns to Cognitive and Noncognitive Ability: Evidence from the Swedish Enlistment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 101-28, January.
  8. Marianne Bertrand & Jessica Pan, 2013. "The Trouble with Boys: Social Influences and the Gender Gap in Disruptive Behavior," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 32-64, January.
  9. James J. Heckman & Paul A. LaFontaine, 2008. "The American High School Graduation Rate: Trends And Levels," Working Papers 200828, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
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