This paper investigates the evolution of socio-emotional skills over the life cycle and across generations. We start by characterising the evolution of these skills in the first part of the life cycle. We then examine whether parents’ socio-emotional skills in early childhood rather than in adolescence are more predictive of their children’s socio-emotional skills. We exploit data from the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) and focus on two dimensions of socioemotional skills: internalizing and externalizing skills, linked respectively to the ability of focusing attention and engaging in interpersonal activities. When looking at the evolution of socio-emotional skills over the life cycle, we notice a considerable amount of persistence which leads to a rejection of the simple Markov dynamic models often used in the literature. The BCS70 contains data on the skills of three generations. Moreover, the skills for cohort members and their children are not observed at the same calendar time, but at similar ages. We establish that parents’ and children’s socio-emotional skills during early childhood are comparable and estimate intergenerational mobility in socio-emotional skills, examining the link between the parent’s socio-emotional skills at age 5, 10 and 16 and the child’s socio-emotional skills between ages 3 and 16. We show that the magnitudes of intergenerational persistence estimates are smaller than the magnitude of intergenerational persistence estimates in occupation and income found for the United Kingdom. Finally, we estimate multi-generational persistence in socio-emotional skills and find that the grandmother’s internalizing skill correlates with the grandchild’s socio-emotional skills even after controlling for parental skills.
First version, September, 2020
J62: Job, Occupational, and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
D63: Equity; Justice; Inequality; and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
I21: Analysis of Education
J24: Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity