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ERIC Number: ED519961
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 178
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1242-5160-8
Essays on the Role of Noncognitive Skills in Decision-Making
McGee, Andrew Dunstan
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Ohio State University
While "ability" has long featured prominently in economic models and empirical studies of labor markets, economists have only recently begun to consider how personality and attitudes--noncognitive factors--influence behavior both from a theoretical and empirical standpoint. This dissertation incorporates noncognitive factors into economic models of search and educational attainment and examines how these factors influence behavior using survey and experimental data. Chapter 1 considers how locus of control--the degree to which one believes one's actions influence outcomes--affects unemployed job search. Assuming that locus of control is a determinant of beliefs about the efficacy of search effort, the model predicts that "internal" individuals (who believe their actions determine outcomes) search more intensively and set higher reservation wages than their "external" counterparts (who believe their actions have little effect on outcomes). Using the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, I find that, consistent with these predictions, "internal" job seekers search more intensively and set higher reservation wages than do their more "external" peers, but are no better at converting search effort into job offers and earn no more than their peers upon finding employment conditional on reservation wages. The findings also indicate that very "internal" individuals hold out for excessively high wages while very "external" individuals search too little. As a result, both groups spend more time unemployed than individuals with average loci of control. Chapter 2 tests the hypothesis that locus of control affects search behavior by influencing beliefs about the efficacy of search effort in a laboratory experiment in which subjects exert effort to generate offers. There are two experimental treatments: a limited information treatment in which subjects exert effort without knowledge of how their effort influences the generation of offers and a full information treatment in which subjects are informed of this relationship. I find that in the limited information treatment more "internal" subjects exert more effort and hold out for higher offers than more "external" subjects, but there is no such relationship in the full information treatment when uncertainty about the connection between effort and outcomes does not exist. In both treatments, however, I find that "externality" is positively related to the probability that an individual "quits" searching, suggesting that locus of control may play a key role in explaining "discouragement" among searchers. Chapter 3 examines how learning disabled youth fare in high school relative to observationally equivalent peers in terms of cognitive and noncognitive skills. Learning disabled youth in my sample are six percentage points more likely to graduate from high school than peers with the same measured cognitive ability. This difference cannot be explained by differences in noncognitive skills, families, or school resources. Instead, I find that learning disabled students graduate from high school at higher rates because of high school graduation policies making it easier for learning disabled youth to obtain a high school diploma. The effects of these graduation policies are even more remarkable given that I find evidence after high school that learning disabled youth have less "unmeasured" human capital. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: National Longitudinal Survey of Youth