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Noncognitive skills in economics: Models, measurement, and empirical evidence

  • Thiel, Hendrik
  • Thomsen, Stephan L.

There is an increasing economic literature considering personality traits as a source of individual differences in labor market productivity and other outcomes. This paper provides an overview on the role of these skills regarding three main aspects: measurement, development over the life course, and outcomes. Based on the relevant literature from different disciplines, the common psychometric measures used to assess personality are discussed and critical assumptions for their application are highlighted. We sketch current research that aims at incorporating personality traits into economic models of decision making. A recently proposed production function of human capital which takes personality into account is reviewed in light of the findings about life cycle dynamics in other disciplines. Based on these foundations, the main results of the empirical literature regarding noncognitive skills are briefly summarized. Moreover, we discuss common econometric pitfalls that evolve in empirical analysis of personality traits and possible solutions.

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Paper provided by ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research in its series ZEW Discussion Papers with number 09-076 [rev.].

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:09076r
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