Does School Kill Your Future?

Well, here is a paper that aligns perfectly with my prejudices against schooling:

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

Prevailing research argues that childhood misbehavior in the classroom is bad for schooling and, presumably, bad overall. In contrast, we argue that childhood misbehavior reflects underlying traits that are potentially valuable in the labor market. We follow work from psychology and treat measured classroom misbehavior as reflecting two underlying non-cognitive traits. Next, we estimate a model of life-cycle decisions, allowing the impact of each of the two traits to vary by economic outcome. We show the first evidence that one of the traits capturing childhood misbehavior, discussed in psychological literature as the externalizing trait (and linked, for example, to aggression), does indeed reduce educational attainment, but also increases earnings. This finding highlights a broader point: non-cognition is not well summarized as a single underlying trait that is either good or bad per se. Using the estimated model, we assess competing pedagogical policies. For males, we find that policies aimed at eliminating the externalizing trait increase schooling attainment, but also reduce earnings. In comparison, policies that decrease the schooling penalty of the externalizing trait increase both schooling and earnings.

They have studied a cohort information database and looked for correlations between behavioral problems at school and future earnings and have found that they exist and they are positive. That means, the bad boys earn more when grow up and, what is for me much more important, the attitudes and behaviors that guarantee success in school are damaging in reality.
I don’t have time to dive into the numbers and assess the relevance of the correlations found. I have the suspicion that it may be an artefact.  If somebody has the time and is in the mood to do investigate it, please keep us informed.

Thanks to Marginal Revolution for the link.


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