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University education and non-cognitive skill development

Sonja C Kassenboehmer, Felix Leung and Stefanie Schurer
Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Sonja Cornelia de New

Oxford Economic Papers, 2018, vol. 70, issue 2, 538-562

Abstract: We examine the effect of university education on students’ non-cognitive skills (NCS) using high-quality Australian longitudinal data. To isolate the skill-building effects of tertiary education, we follow the education decisions and NCS—proxied by the Big Five personality traits—of 575 adolescents over eight years. Estimating a standard skill production function, we demonstrate a robust positive relationship between university education and extraversion, and agreeableness for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The effects are likely to operate through exposure to university life rather than through degree-specific curricula or university-specific teaching quality. As extraversion and agreeableness are associated with socially beneficial behaviours, we propose that university education may have important non-market returns.

JEL-codes: H52 I12 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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