Experimental Economics

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 58–70

Health effects on children’s willingness to compete



The formation of human capital is important for a society’s welfare and economic success. Recent literature shows that child health can provide an important explanation for disparities in children’s human capital development across different socio-economic groups. While this literature focuses on cognitive skills as determinants of human capital, it neglects non-cognitive skills. We analyze data from economic experiments with preschoolers and their mothers to investigate whether child health can explain developmental gaps in children’s non-cognitive skills. Our measure for children’s non-cognitive skills is their willingness to compete with others. Our findings suggest that health problems are negatively related to children’s willingness to compete and that the effect of health on competitiveness differs with socio-economic background. Health has a strongly negative effect in our sub-sample with low socio-economic background, whereas there is no effect in our sub-sample with high socio-economic background.


Willingness to compete Non-cognitive skills Human capital Health Household survey studies 

JEL Classification

C90 I10 J24 


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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Economics and Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems ResearchUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsUniversity of MainzMainzGermany

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