Hard Evidence on Soft Skills

54 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2012

See all articles by James J. Heckman

James J. Heckman

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Tim Kautz

University of Chicago

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

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.

Keywords: personality, achievement tests, IQ, cognition

JEL Classification: I20, D01

Suggested Citation

Heckman, James J. and Kautz, Tim, Hard Evidence on Soft Skills. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6580. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2080324

James J. Heckman (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-0634 (Phone)
773-702-8490 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

American Bar Foundation

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Tim Kautz

University of Chicago ( email )

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
151
Abstract Views
782
rank
135,561
PlumX Metrics