Bullying among Adolescents: The Role of Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills

Miguel Sarzosa, Sergio Urzúa

NBER Working Paper No. 21631
Issued in October 2015
NBER Program(s):CH, DEV, ED

Bullying is a behavioral phenomenon that has received increasing attention in recent times. This paper uses a structural model with latent skills and longitudinal information from Korean youths to identify the determinants and effects of bullying. We find that, unlike cognitive skills, non-cognitive skills significantly reduce the chances of being bullied during high school. We use the model to estimate average treatment effects of being bullied at age 15 on several outcomes measured at age 18. We show that bullying is very costly. It increases the probability of smoking as well as the likelihood of feeling sick, depressed, stressed and unsatisfied with life. It also reduces college enrollment and increases the dislike of school. We document that differences in non-cognitive and cognitive skill endowments palliate or exacerbate these consequences. Finally, we explore whether investing in non-cognitive skills could reduce the occurrence of bullying. Our findings indicate that the investment in skill development is key in any policy intended to fight the behavior.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21631

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