Bas ter Weel

CPB Netherlands Bureau
for Economic Policy Analysis
P.O.Box 80510
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The Netherlands


NBER Working Papers and Publications

December 2014Fostering and Measuring Skills: Improving Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills to Promote Lifetime Success
with Tim Kautz, James J. Heckman, Ron Diris, Lex Borghans: w20749
This paper reviews the recent literature on measuring and boosting cognitive and noncognitive skills. The literature establishes that achievement tests do not adequately capture character skills|personality traits, goals, motivations, and preferences that are valued in the labor market, in school, and in many other domains. Their predictive power rivals that of cognitive skills. Reliable measures of character have been developed. All measures of character and cognition are measures of performance on some task. In order to reliably estimate skills from tasks, it is necessary to standardize for incentives, effort, and other skills when measuring any particular skill. Character is a skill, not a trait. At any age, character skills are stable across different tasks, but skills can change over ...
February 2008The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits
with Lex Borghans, Angela Lee Duckworth, James J. Heckman: w13810
This paper explores the interface between personality psychology and economics. We examine the predictive power of personality and the stability of personality traits over the life cycle. We develop simple analytical frameworks for interpreting the evidence in personality psychology and suggest promising avenues for future research.

Published: Lex Borghans & Angela Lee Duckworth & James J. Heckman & Bas ter Weel, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4). citation courtesy of

January 2007Interpersonal Styles and Labor Market Outcomes
with Lex Borghans, Bruce A. Weinberg: w12846
This paper develops a framework to understand the role of interpersonal interactions in the labor market including task assignment and wages. Effective interpersonal interactions involve caring, to establish cooperation, and at the same time directness, to communicate in an unambiguous way. The ability to perform these tasks varies with personality and the importance of these tasks varies across jobs. An assignment model shows that people are most productive in jobs that match their style and earn less when they have to shift to other jobs. An oversupply of one attribute relative to the other reduces wages for people who are better with the attribute in greater supply. We present evidence that youth sociability affects job assignment in adulthood. The returns to interpersonal interactions ...

Published: Lex Borghans & Bas ter Weel & Bruce A. Weinberg, 2008. "Interpersonal Styles and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4). citation courtesy of

January 2006People People: Social Capital and the Labor-Market Outcomes of Underrepresented Groups
with Lex Borghans, Bruce A. Weinberg: w11985
Despite indications that people skills are important for understanding individual labor-market outcomes and have become more important over the last decades, there is little analysis by economists. This paper shows that people skills are important determinants of labor-market outcomes, including occupations and wages. We show that technological and organizational changes have increased the importance of people skills in the workplace. We particularly focus on how the increased importance of people skills has affected the labor-market outcomes of under represented groups. We show that the acceleration rate of increase in the importance of people skills between the late 1970s and early 1990s can help explain why women%u2019s wages increased more rapidly while the wages of blacks grew mor...
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