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Skill Disparities and Unequal Family Outcomes

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2014 AEA Meetings in Philadelphia. I would like to thank Richard Startz, Gabriella Conti, and participants in the IZA Workshop on Gender Convergence and seminars at the University of Mannheim and University of Zurich for valuable comments on this project. I also appreciate the excellent assistance and comments I’ve received from Jenna Stearns. Financial support from the Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research at UCSB is gratefully acknowledged.

Gender Convergence in the Labor Market

ISBN: 978-1-78441-456-6, eISBN: 978-1-78441-455-9

ISSN: 0147-9121

Publication date: 29 January 2015

Abstract

The prevalence and stability of marriage has declined in the United States as the economic lives of men and women have converged. Family change has not been uniform, however, and the widening gaps in marital status, relationship stability, and childbearing between socioeconomic groups raise concerns about child well-being in poor families and future inequality. This paper uses data from a recent cohort of young adults – Wave IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health – to investigate whether disparities in cognitive ability and non-cognitive skills contribute to this gap. Blinder–Oaxaca decompositions of differences in key family outcomes across education groups show that, though individual non-cognitive traits are significantly associated with union status, relationship instability, and single motherhood, they collectively make no significant contribution to the explanation of educational gaps for almost all of these outcomes. Measured skills can explain as much as 25 percent of differences in these outcomes by family background (measured by mother’s education), but this effect disappears when own education is added to the model. Both cognitive and non-cognitive skills are strongly predictive of educational attainment but, conditional on education, explain very little of the socioeconomic gaps in family outcomes for young adults.

Keywords

Citation

Lundberg, S. (2015), "Skill Disparities and Unequal Family Outcomes

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2014 AEA Meetings in Philadelphia. I would like to thank Richard Startz, Gabriella Conti, and participants in the IZA Workshop on Gender Convergence and seminars at the University of Mannheim and University of Zurich for valuable comments on this project. I also appreciate the excellent assistance and comments I’ve received from Jenna Stearns. Financial support from the Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research at UCSB is gratefully acknowledged.

", Gender Convergence in the Labor Market (Research in Labor Economics, Vol. 41), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 177-212. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0147-912120140000041013

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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