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The role of non-cognitive and cognitive skills, behavioural and educational outcomes in accounting for the intergenerational transmission of worklessness

  • Lindsey Macmillan


    (Department of Quantitative Social Science, Institute of Education, University of London)

Previous work has shown that there is a significant intergenerational correlation of worklessness for the UK which varies across local labour markets (Macmillan, 2011). Using a decomposition from the intergenerational mobility literature (Blanden et. al, 2007), this research is the first to consider the drivers of this transmission. I consider the role of four sets of characteristics of the son in childhood; his non-cognitive skills, cognition, behavioural outcomes and educational attainment, to assess which characteristics are important predictors of later workless spells and whether those characteristics are associated with growing up with a workless father. The wide range of characteristics can only account for 12% of the intergenerational transmission, with the vast majority remaining unaccounted for. While cognition and education dominate the intergenerational transmission of incomes, non-cognitive skills and behavioural outcomes play a more important role in the intergenerational transmission of worklessness. Many of the characteristics considered become increasingly important predictors of future worklessness as the unemployment rate in the local labour market increases. This descriptive analysis suggests that there are benefits to improving the soft skills of the most disadvantaged children, alongside their attainment, to ensure a successful connection with the labour market in adulthood.

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Paper provided by Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London in its series DoQSS Working Papers with number 13-01.

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Date of creation: 22 Jan 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:qss:dqsswp:1301
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  1. John A. List & Imran Rasul, 2010. "Field Experiments in Labor Economics," NBER Working Papers 16062, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Coate, Stephen & Loury, Glenn C, 1993. "Will Affirmative-Action Policies Eliminate Negative Stereotypes?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1220-40, December.
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  4. Tyra Ekhaugen, 2009. "Extracting the causal component from the intergenerational correlation in unemployment," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 97-113, January.
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  6. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1994. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 257-298 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Lindsey Macmillan, 2011. "Measuring the intergenerational correlation of worklessness," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 11/278, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  8. Blanden, Jo & Gregg, Paul & Macmillan, Lindsey, 2007. "Accounting for Intergenerational Income Persistence: Noncognitive Skills, Ability and Education," IZA Discussion Papers 2554, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Fernando Galindo-Rueda & Anna Vignoles, 2005. "The Declining Relative Importance of Ability in Predicting Educational Attainment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(2).
  10. Donal O'Neill; & Olive Sweetman, 1997. "Intergenerational Mobility in Britain: Evidence from unemployment patterns," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n730997, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  11. Paul Gregg & Lindsey Macmillan, 2009. "Family Income and Education in the Next Generation: Exploring income gradients in education for current cohorts of youth," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 09/223, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
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