B3927 - Social Skills in a Changing Labour Market - 02/12/2021

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Emilia Del Bono | University of Essex (United Kingdom)
Dr Ben Etheridge, Dr Paul Garcia
Title of project: 
Social Skills in a Changing Labour Market
Proposal summary: 

Across the developed world, employment has declined in middle-wage "routine" jobs and increased strongly in jobs requiring a degree. Recent evidence from the U.S. and Sweden indicates this change is associated with an increase in the demand for jobs requiring social skills. Over the last 30 years the UK labour market has witnessed a well-documented increase in the supply of graduates while the occupational structure has shifted towards managerial jobs. However, there is no strong evidence as yet that these changes have benefitted workers with higher social abilities.

In this project we will investigate the labour market returns to social skills in the context of the UK. Thanks to the availability of long-running cohort studies, the UK offers an opportunity to examine unique data on individual’s characteristics, such as cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical abilities. ALSPAC is particularly suitable to our purposes as it collects detailed information on these abilities.

The changing labour market is at the centre of some of the most important social policy debates worldwide, especially those focused on the effect of artificial intelligence on the demand for different types of skills. We will contribute to these debates by providing novel evidence of the relationship between different types of skills and labour market outcomes.

Impact of research: 
Ours will be the first UK study to examine changes in the returns to social skills. This is an important question to address, as it informs our understanding of the factors currently affecting the labour market demand for skills and the productivity of our workforce. The evidence provided by our research will help us predict the type of skills which will be relevant in the future and it could potentially contribute to reassess the emphasis placed by schools and higher education institutions on different dimensions of human capital accumulation (e.g. cognitive vs. non-cognitive). Secondly, throughout all our analyses we will consider the contemporaneous effect of different vectors of skills, including cognitive, social, wider non-cognitive, and manual/physical. These different dimensions are likely to be strongly correlated and omitting one of them could affect the results of the empirical analyses as well as their interpretation. Moreover, by considering many skill dimensions we will be able to model several types of interactions and examine whether there is evidence of significant complementarities (Weinberger 2014).
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 12 November, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 18 November, 2021
Social Science, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Statistical methods, Social science