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The Economic Value of Breaking Bad: Misbehavior, Schooling and the Labor Market

Author

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  • Papageorge, Nicholas W.

    () (Johns Hopkins University)

  • Ronda, Victor

    () (Johns Hopkins University)

  • Zheng, Yu

    () (City University of Hong Kong)

Abstract

Prevailing research argues that childhood misbehavior in the classroom is bad for schooling and, presumably, bad for adult outcomes. In contrast, we argue that childhood misbehavior represents some underlying non-cognitive skills that are valuable in the labor market. We follow work from psychology and categorize observed classroom misbehavior into two underlying latent factors. We then estimate a model of educational attainment and earnings outcomes, allowing the impact of each of the two factors to vary by outcome. We find one of the factors, labeled in the psychological literature as externalizing behavior (and linked, for example, to aggression), reduces educational attainment yet increases earnings. Unlike most models where non-cognitive skills that increase human capital through education also increase labor market skills, our findings illustrate how some non-cognitive skills can be productive in some economic contexts and counter-productive in others. Policies designed to promote human capital accumulation could therefore have mixed effects or even negative economic consequences, especially for policies that target non-cognitive skill formation for children or adolescents which are aimed solely at improving educational outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Papageorge, Nicholas W. & Ronda, Victor & Zheng, Yu, 2017. "The Economic Value of Breaking Bad: Misbehavior, Schooling and the Labor Market," IZA Discussion Papers 10822, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10822
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sergio Urzúa, 2008. "Racial Labor Market Gaps: The Role of Abilities and Schooling Choices," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
    2. James Heckman & Tim Kautz, 2013. "Fostering and Measuring Skills: Interventions That Improve Character and Cognition," Working Papers 2013-019, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    3. Doyle, Orla & Harmon, Colm P. & Heckman, James J. & Tremblay, Richard E., 2009. "Investing in early human development: Timing and economic efficiency," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 1-6, March.
    4. Scott E. Carrell & Mark L. Hoekstra, 2010. "Externalities in the Classroom: How Children Exposed to Domestic Violence Affect Everyone's Kids," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 211-228, January.
    5. Pedro Carneiro & Katrine V. Løken & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2015. "A Flying Start? Maternity Leave Benefits and Long-Run Outcomes of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 123(2), pages 365-412.
    6. Sciulli, Dario, 2016. "Adult employment probabilities of socially maladjusted children," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 9-22.
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    Cited by:

    1. Shelly Lundberg, 2017. "Non-Cognitive Skills as Human Capital," NBER Chapters,in: Education, Skills, and Technical Change: Implications for Future US GDP Growth National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    non-cognitive skills; education; labor;

    JEL classification:

    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General

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