The Economic Value of Breaking Bad: Misbehavior, Schooling and the Labor Market

49 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2020

See all articles by Nicholas W. Papageorge

Nicholas W. Papageorge

Johns Hopkins University Department of Economics

Victor Ronda

Johns Hopkins University Department of Economics

Yu Zheng

Queen Mary University of London

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 2019

Abstract

Prevailing research argues that childhood misbehavior in the classroom is bad for schooling and, presumably, bad for labor market outcomes. In contrast, we argue that some childhood misbehavior represents underlying socio-emotional skills that are valuable in the labor market. We follow work from psychology and categorize observed classroom misbehavior into two underlying latent factors. We then estimate a model of educational attainment and earnings outcomes, allowing the impact of each of the two factors to vary by outcome. We find that one of the factors, labeled in the psychological literature as externalizing behavior (and linked, for example, to aggression), reduces educational attainment yet increases earnings. Unlike most models where socio-emotional skills that increase human capital through education also increase labor market skills, our findings illustrate how some socio-emotional skills can be productive in some economic contexts and counter-productive in others. Policies designed to promote human capital accumulation could therefore have mixed effects or even negative economic consequences, especially in the case of policies that target socio-emotional skill formation for children or adolescents which are aimed solely at improving educational outcomes.

Keywords: education, Labor, Socio-Emotional Skills

JEL Classification: I20, J10, J20

Suggested Citation

Papageorge, Nicholas W. and Ronda, Victor and Zheng, Yu, The Economic Value of Breaking Bad: Misbehavior, Schooling and the Labor Market (December 2019). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP14226, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3518564

Nicholas W. Papageorge (Contact Author)

Johns Hopkins University Department of Economics ( email )

3400 Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218-2685
United States

Victor Ronda

Johns Hopkins University Department of Economics ( email )

3400 Charles Stree
Baltimore, MA 21218-2685
United States

Yu Zheng

Queen Mary University of London ( email )

Mile End Rd
Mile End Road
London, London E1 4NS
United Kingdom

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