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Africa Economic Brief - Volume 8 Issue 5 - Labor Market Outcomes during Life Transition


There is growing evidence that noncognitive skills affect economic, behavioral, and demographic outcomes in the developed world. Recent research, albeit more limited, suggests that noncognitive skills, which encompass the socio-emotional status of an individual and include an extensive set of skills and characteristics, such as personality, motivation, perseverance, self-control, time preference, selfesteem, and the ability to work with others, are important for economic success—affecting labor market participation and earnings, as well as a broad range of related outcomes, including school attainment, crime participation, earnings, and participation in risky behaviors (Dawson, Ashman, and Carver 2000; Meany 2001; Blau and Currie 2006; Cunha et al. 2006; Knudsen et al. 2006; Heckman 2007; Marshall 2009; Curley et al. 2011).

However, little such evidence exists from developing countries. We estimated the joint effect of five specific personality traits and cognition on a sequence of labor market outcomes for a sample of Malagasy individuals, as they transition from adolescence to young adulthood. Specifically, we model these individuals’ age of entry into the labor market, labor market sectoral selection, and within sector earnings. The personality traits we examine are the Big Five Personality Traits: Openness to Experience, Conscien - tious ness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

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