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Going beyond the mean in examining relationships of adolescent non-cognitive skills with health-related quality of life and biomarkers in later-life

Rose Atkins, Alex James Turner, Tarani Chandola and Matt Sutton

Economics & Human Biology, 2020, vol. 39, issue C

Abstract: Several studies have established associations between early-life non-cognitive skills and later-life health and health behaviours. However, no study addresses the more important policy concern about how this relationship varies along the health distribution. We use unconditional quantile regression to analyse the effects of adolescent non-cognitive skills across the distributions of the health-related quality of life at age 50 and biomarkers at age 45 years. We examine the effects of measures of conscientiousness, agreeableness and neuroticism recorded at age 16 for 3585 individuals from the National Child Development Study. Adolescent conscientiousness is positively associated with ability to cope with stress and negatively associated with risk of cardiovascular disease in middle-age. Adolescent agreeableness is associated with higher health-related quality of life and lower physiological ‘wear and tear’, but negatively associated with ability to cope with stress in middle-age. Adolescent neuroticism is associated with lower health-related quality of life, higher physiological ‘wear and tear’, and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease in middle-age. All of these associations are stronger at the lower end of the health distribution except for the cardiovascular risk biomarkers. These associations are robust to correcting for attrition using inverse probability weighting and consistent with causal bounds assuming proportional selection on observables and unobservables. They suggest policies that improve non-cognitive skills in adolescence could offer most long-term health benefit to those with the poorest health.

Keywords: Non-cognitive skills; Health-related quality of life; Biomarkers; Unconditional quantile regression (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2020.100923

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