The Mediation Effect of Education on Self-Esteem and Wages
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Research suggests a positive relationship between adolescent self-esteem and adult wages. Drawing data from the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, I refine the empirical relationship between self-esteem, wages, and education. The effect of self-esteem on wages is positive and significant when estimating models for the entire sample. This effect, however, becomes statistically insignificant when estimating models for subsamples sorted by educational level. In addition, mediation models suggest that roughly one-third of the total effect of self-esteem on wages is mediated by education. In total, these results indicate that there is a significantly less pronounced direct effect of self-esteem on wages than previously found in the literature. A substantial portion of the effect self-esteem has on wages occurs through its effect on educational attainment.
KeywordsSelf-esteem Personality Human capital Education Mediation
Jel ClassificationI20 J01 J24 J30
I would like to thank Mark Owens, Joachim Zietz, Christian Brown, Josh Hill, and E. Anthon Eff for helpful assistance, comments, suggestions, and editing related to this article. All errors are my own.
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