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Faculty & Research


Social Skills and the Individual Wage Growth of Less Educated Workers

Working Paper
This study employs matched employee-employer data from the UK to highlight the importance of social skills, in particular workers’ ability to work well in a team and communicate effectively with co-workers, as a driver of wage growth for workers with lower formal education. These findings indicate that in tasks emphasizing social skills, such workers not only enjoy greater wage progression with tenure but also accrue higher returns in environments with a higher concentration of more educated colleagues. Additionally, workers’ exit occur sooner from jobs where social skills are more important. The authors rationalize these dynamics through a model that assesses social skills based on their complementarity with a firm’s assets and where a worker’s social skills, initially opaque to both the employee and employer, become increasingly apparent over time.

Professor of Economics