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Swedish evidence on the impact of cognitive and non-cognitive ability on earnings – an extended pre-market factor approach


  • Zetterberg, Johnny

    () (IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation)


This paper investigates the impact on earnings of non-cognitive ability, measured in terms of individuals’ 'self-esteem' on earnings. Starting with the pre-market factor approach suggested by Neal & Johnson (1996) a main finding is that measures of relative self-esteem along with cognitive ability are positively correlated with earnings. The analysis also reveals that the returns to cognitive and non-cognitive ability vary over the earnings-distribution: the returns are larger at higher levels of earnings than at low levels. While qualitatively robust, the effects decrease in magnitude when an extended version of the pre-market factor model is used.

Suggested Citation

  • Zetterberg, Johnny, 2005. "Swedish evidence on the impact of cognitive and non-cognitive ability on earnings – an extended pre-market factor approach," Working Paper Series 2005:16, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2005_016

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Goldberger, A.S. & Manski, C.F., 1995. "Review Article: The Bell Curve by Herrnstein and Murray," Working papers 9502, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
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    6. Cameron, Stephen V & Heckman, James J, 1993. "The Nonequivalence of High School Equivalents," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 1-47, January.
    7. Blackburn, McKinley L & Neumark, David, 1993. "Omitted-Ability Bias and the Increase in the Return to Schooling," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(3), pages 521-544, July.
    8. Murnane, Richard J & Willett, John B & Levy, Frank, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 251-266, May.
    9. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Self-Confidence and Personal Motivation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 871-915.
    10. Fredriksson, Peter & Öckert, Björn, 2005. "Is Early Learning Really More Productive? The Effect of School Starting Age on School and Labor Market Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 1659, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. 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.
    12. Sendhil Mullainathan & Marianne Bertrand, 2001. "Do People Mean What They Say? Implications for Subjective Survey Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 67-72, May.
    13. Connolly, Sara & Micklewright, John & Nickell, Stephen, 1992. "The Occupational Success of Young Men Who Left School at Sixteen," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 460-479, July.
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    More about this item


    Incentive-influencing preferences; cognitive ability; non-cognitive ability; relative and absolute self-esteem; earnings distribution;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management

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