Adolescent Environment and Noncognitive Skills
59 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2014 Last revised: 27 Jan 2016
Date Written: September 2015
Human skills are formed throughout multiple stages over the life cycle. Different types of skills are manipulable at different ages. This paper investigates whether and how the adolescent environment affects individuals' noncognitive skills. We exploit the "Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside Movement" during China's Cultural Revolution, in which millions of urban educated youths were forced to work and live in rural areas. We identify the effect of the "send-down" experience on the youths' locus of control by regression discontinuity. Results show that rusticated youths have less external locus of control, i.e., are less likely to believe that external circumstances, such as luck or powerful others, control their lives. We interpret our findings as a long-run effect of the adolescent experience of adapting to adversity and expending effort that leads to reward. We also find evidence consistent with the dynamic complementary hypothesis which holds that investments at different ages bolster each other.
Keywords: early intervention, values, rusticated youth, hardship during youth, China
JEL Classification: J13, O15, Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation