Intergenerational educational mobility – The role of noncognitive skills

Adamecz et al. / Education Economics / February 2023

Male student studying with parent

While it has been shown that university attendance is strongly predicted by parental education, we know very little about why some potential first-generation students make it to university and others do not. This paper looks at the role of non-cognitive skills in the university participation of this disadvantaged group in England. The authors find that having higher levels of locus of control, academic self-concept, work ethic, and self-esteem in adolescence is positively related to intergenerational educational mobility to university. These results indicate these skills help potential first-generation students to compensate for their relative disadvantage, and they are especially crucial for boys.