The Character of Class: Self-Concept, Self-Control and Social Immobility
The importance of "character" or non-cognitive skills to socio-economic success has received much interest from across the social sciences, and in policy. However, there is little clarity as to what the non-cognitive comprises, or how or for whom it contributes to socio-economic outcomes. I consider a range of measures of children's self-beliefs and behaviors, and of class reproduction, in the British Cohort Study, a representative sample of Britons born in 1970. Model-based factor analysis
... s there is no general non-cognitive dimension to skills. Children's self-concept and teacher-ratings of their self-control form two distinct factors, with the latter in particular closely related to cognitive skill. Natural effect models find self-concept as well as self-control helps account for social immobility, the lower chances of attaining the middle class, and the (higher) professional-managerial class, for those from working-class, and non-elite backgrounds. Much, but not all, of the mediation role of character reflects its association with performance on cognitive tests. Non-cognitive factors thus matter to socio-economic outcomes, but in a way more consistent with Bourdieusian models of cultural capital than with economic conceptions of human capital.