Martin Nybom, IFAU and Stockholm University – University of Copenhagen

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Martin Nybom, IFAU and Stockholm University

"The Rising Return to Non-Cognitive Skill"


We examine the changes in the relative rewards to cognitive and non-cognitive skill during the time period 1992–2013. Using unique administrative data for Sweden, we document a secular increase in the returns to non-cognitive skill, which is particularly pronounced in the private sector and at the upper-end of the wage distribution. Workers with an abundance of non-cognitive skill were increasingly sorted into occupations that were intensive in: cognitive skill; as well as abstract, non-routine, social, non-automatable and offshorable tasks. Such occupations were also the types of occupations which saw greater increases in the relative return to non-cognitive skill. Moreover, we show that greater emphasis is placed on noncognitive skills in the promotion to leadership positions over time. These pieces of evidence are consistent with a framework where non-cognitive, inter-personal, skills are increasingly required to coordinate production within and across workplaces.

Martin Nybom is a researcher at the Institute of Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy, as well as an associated researcher at Stockholm University and the Swedish Institutes for Social Research. Furthermore, he is affiliated with the Uppsala Center for Labor Studies.

His work covers topics such as labor economics and applied microeconomics, including inequality, intergenerational mobility and the labor market effects of skills and education.