Non-Cognitive Skills and Self Employment

Award Year


Grant Type

Early Career Research Award


Recent work has connected non-cognitive skills and personality traits to self employment. This type of research is motivated by the possibility of linking successful entrepreneurship to a set of measurable and fairly modifiable factors. The proposed research will add to this literature. My key departure from earlier work is that I will consider two skills that are measured during childhood and that capture maladjustment and misbehavior. My focus on these skills is motivated by recent findings in Papageorge, Ronda, and Zheng (2014). In that paper, the authors document how one of the two skills in question, known as externalizing behavior (and linked to aggression), though it lowers schooling attainment and raises the likelihood of being arrested during adulthood, has a positive impact on earnings and also predicts entry into self employment. These patterns not only raise the possibility of identifying entrepreneurs at very young ages. They also suggest that a factor that drives entrepreneurship is penalized in school.