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Noncognitive Skills in Training Curricula and Nonlinear Wage Returns

Author

Listed:
  • Fabienne Kiener
  • Ann-Sophie Gnehm
  • Uschi Backes-Gellner

Abstract

Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to investigate self-competence - the ability to act responsibly on one's own - and likely nonlinear wage returns across different levels of self-competence as part of training curricula. Design/methodology/approach - The authors identify the teaching of self-competence at the occupational level by applying machine-learning methods to the texts of occupational training curricula. Defining three levels of self-competence (high, medium, and low) and using individual labor market data, they examine nonlinearities in wage returns to different levels of self-competence. Findings - The authors find nonlinear returns to teaching self-competence: a medium level of self-competence taught in an occupation has the largest wage returns compared to low or high levels. However, in occupations with a high cognitive requirement profile, a high level of self-competence generates positive wage returns. Originality - This paper first adds to research on the importance of teaching noncognitive skills for economic outcomes, which recently - in addition to personality traits research - has primarily focused on social skills by introducing self-competence as another largely unexplored but important noncognitive skill. Second, the paper studies not only average but nonlinear wage returns, showing that the right level of self-competence is crucial, i.e., neither teaching too little nor too much self-competence provides favorable returns because of trade-offs with other skills (e.g., technical or professional skills). Third, the paper also examines complementarities between cognitive skills and noncognitive skills, again pointing towards nonlinear returns, i.e., only in occupations with a high cognitive requirement profile, high levels of self-competence generate positive wage returns.

Suggested Citation

  • Fabienne Kiener & Ann-Sophie Gnehm & Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2020. "Noncognitive Skills in Training Curricula and Nonlinear Wage Returns," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0175, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
  • Handle: RePEc:iso:educat:0175
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Erik Hanushek & Stephen Machin & Ludger Woessmann (ed.), 2011. "Handbook of the Economics of Education," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 4, number 4, June.
    2. David J. Deming, 2017. "The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 132(4), pages 1593-1640.
    3. David Deming & Lisa B. Kahn, 2018. "Skill Requirements across Firms and Labor Markets: Evidence from Job Postings for Professionals," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(S1), pages 337-369.
    4. Fabienne Kiener & Ann-Sophie Gnehm & Simon Clematide & Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2019. "IT skills in vocational training curricula and labour market outcomes," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0159, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW), revised Sep 2022.
    5. Katharina Jaik & Stefan C. Wolter, 2018. "From Dreams to Reality: Market Forces and Changes from Occupational Intention to Occupational Choice," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0149, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW), revised Oct 2018.
    6. Almlund, Mathilde & Duckworth, Angela Lee & Heckman, James & Kautz, Tim, 2011. "Personality Psychology and Economics," Handbook of the Economics of Education, in: Erik Hanushek & Stephen Machin & Ludger Woessmann (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Education, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 0, pages 1-181, Elsevier.
    7. Eggenberger, Christian & Rinawi, Miriam & Backes-Gellner, Uschi, 2018. "Occupational specificity: A new measurement based on training curricula and its effect on labor market outcomes," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 97-107.
    8. Schultheiss, Tobias & Pfister, Curdin & Gnehm, Ann-Sophie & Backes-Gellner, Uschi, 2023. "Education expansion and high-skill job opportunities for workers: Does a rising tide lift all boats?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(C).
    9. Catherine J. Weinberger, 2014. "The Increasing Complementarity between Cognitive and Social Skills," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(5), pages 849-861, December.
    10. Stefan C. Wolter & Maria Zumbuehl, 2017. "The native-migrant gap in the progression into and through upper-secondary education," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0139, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    11. Eggenberger, Christian & Backes-Gellner, Uschi, 2023. "IT skills, occupation specificity and job separations," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 92(C).
    12. Hoeschler, Peter & Balestra, Simone & Backes-Gellner, Uschi, 2018. "The development of non-cognitive skills in adolescence," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 40-45.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fabienne Kiener & Christian Eggenberger & Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2024. "The role of occupational skill sets in the digital transformation: how IT progress shapes returns to specialization and social skills," Journal of Business Economics, Springer, vol. 94(1), pages 75-111, January.
    2. Andreas F. Buehler & Patrick Lehnert & Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2023. "Curriculum Updates in Vocational Education and Changes in Graduates' Skills and Wages," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0205, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    noncognitive skills; human capital; text as data; curricula content analyses; vocational education and training;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • M53 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Training

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