Does degree completion improve non-cognitive skills during early adulthood and adulthood?


Oi, Katsuya (2019). Does degree completion improve non-cognitive skills during early adulthood and adulthood?. Journal of Adolescence. vol. 71 pp. 50-62


Introduction Non-cognitive skills, particularly in terms of risk-aversion, future-orientation, and conscientiousness, grow with age, and this phenomenon is known as personality maturation. However, significant variability in maturation among individuals exists. The technology of cognitive/non-cognitive skill formation suggests that the growth of non-cognitive skills is contingent on cognitive skills or human capital in general. The completion of formal education is a quintessential form of human capital. The aim of this study is to test whether formal education indeed facilitates the improvement of non-cognitive skills during early adulthood and adulthood.] Methods I used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. The study sample consists of 9291 individuals, representative of U.S. adolescents in grades 7 through 12 in 1994. The longitudinal design of the data allowed the repeated measurement of their non-cognitive skills in adolescence (age < 18), early adulthood (between 18 and 25) and then in adulthood (>25). I used Latent Score Difference modeling to examine whether advancement in formal education through degree completion predicts within-individual change in non-cognitive skills in early adulthood and adulthood. Results A steady increase in non-cognitive skills beyond adolescence was found. Independently of academic engagement during high school, parental socio-economic status, and adolescent non-cognitive skills, degree completion reported in early adulthood coincides with gains in non-cognitive skills since adolescence, and this positive feedback repeats itself in adulthood. Conclusions Continued schooling facilitates personality maturation beyond adolescence. Given the profound effects of non-cognitive skills on various life outcomes, educational opportunities could alleviate social stratification.




Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Journal of Adolescence


Oi, Katsuya

Year Published


Volume Number





January 4, 2019



Reference ID