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Hard Evidence on Soft Skills

James Heckman and Tim D. Kautz

No 18121, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: This paper summarizes recent evidence on what achievement tests measure; how achievement tests relate to other measures of "cognitive ability" like IQ and grades; the important skills that achievement tests miss or mismeasure, and how much these skills matter in life. Achievement tests miss, or perhaps more accurately, do not adequately capture, soft skills--personality traits, goals, motivations, and preferences--that are valued in the labor market, in school, and in many other domains. The larger message of this paper is that soft skills predict success in life, that they causally produce that success, and that programs that enhance soft skills have an important place in an effective portfolio of public policies.

JEL-codes: D01 I20 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-lab, nep-neu and nep-ure
Date: 2012-06
Note: CH LS
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Published as Heckman, James J. & Kautz, Tim, 2012. "Hard evidence on soft skills," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 451-464.

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