Creating Socio-emotional Skills: Evidence From Developing Countries
Friday, Jan. 5, 2018 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
- Chair: Felipe Barrera-Osorio, Harvard University
Hard Cash and Soft Skills: Experimental Evidence on Combining Scholarships and Mentoring in Argentina
AbstractMany developing countries provide cash transfers to low-income families to encourage children to attend school. These initiatives have increased student participation in school, but they have rarely improved student achievement. One potential reason may be that program beneficiaries may lack the requisite “soft” skills to succeed in school. We conducted a three-year randomized evaluation of a program that provides secondary school students with scholarships and non-academic mentoring in the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The program positively impacted students’ academic behaviors (e.g., starting to study early before an exam or catching up on schoolwork missed due to absences). Yet, we do not find evidence that it improved their academic mindsets (e.g., self-beliefs about performance and self-efficacy), perseverance (e.g., grit), or learning strategies (e.g., metacognition). It improved some metrics of school performance (e.g., student absenteeism, grade failure, and the number of failed subjects) on its first year, but these gains were not sustained in the second year. Finally, we do not find that the program positively impacted students’ achievement in math and reading or their personality traits.
Making Entrepreneurs: The Returns to Training Youth in Entrepreneurial Skills From an At-scale Field Experiment
AbstractEconomists have long believed that entrepreneurship is key element of economic growth and development. While a substantial literature has focused on who becomes an entrepreneur and improves the productivity of enterprises, little work has focused on creating entrepreneurs. This paper reports the results of an at-scale randomized intervention that trained very recent high graduates in soft and hard entrepreneurial skills in Uganda. High graduates were randomly assigned to participate in a 3-week mini MBA the summer following graduation. There were two versions of the min-MBA: a hard skills version that emphasized traditional subjects such as finance, accounting, marketing, etcetera, and a soft skills version that empathized communication, persuasion, negotiation and leadership, etc. Participants were recruited from 200 randomly selected high schools and randomly assigned to one of 40 training locations around the country. Slightly more than 3-years after the training, participants in both treatment groups exhibited substantially higher knowledge of business hard skills and substantially better non-cognitive skills (Big 5), stress and self-esteem. Participants in the soft-skills course additionally were better at persuasion and negotiation lab in-field experiments. Both treatment groups were more likely to start enterprises and better business practices, but only the soft skills groups’ enterprises demonstrated higher profitability. In addition, the skills obtained in the training appear to be well rewarded as the wage rates of both treatments groups were substantially higher than those of the control group. Finally, the intervention was highly beneficial relative to costs.
Impact of High Quality Training on Productivity: Evidence From an Intervention in Retail
AbstractThis paper quantifies the effect of a training intervention on measures of labor market productivity in the context of one of the largest retail firms in Latin America. The training was designed to boost two specific skills –leadership and communication–, which were identified as critical during the design of the intervention. Our identification strategy relies on the experimental design as well as individual-level longitudinal information gathered from the firm. Our estimates suggest large effects of the training program on sales and transactions per worker. This result is confirmed in our cost-benefit analysis. Our findings point towards the feasibility of increasing productivity with a high quality, well-designed and optimally-delivered training program targeted to increase socio-emotional skills pre-identified as crucial in the productive process of the firm.
- J2 - Demand and Supply of Labor
- I2 - Education and Research Institutions