Under Review

The Impact of Sustained Attention on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Ghana

with Chih Ming Tan

Download PDF

In this paper, we go beyond traditional measures of cognitive abilities (IQ) in explaining labor market and social outcomes in developing countries. We exploit a rich dataset from Ghana that provides information on demographics, labor market outcomes, and a direct measure of cognitive ability along with other test scores to construct a measure of sustained attention. Our work is therefore related to the broader literature in Psychology on the importance of executive function on individual behavior and outcomes. We find that, at least for the case of Ghana, after controlling for IQ and other covariates, higher levels of sustained attention are associated with higher annual income, higher educational attainment, and a higher likelihood of being employed in a white collar job.

Keywords: Ghana; Executive Function; Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities; Earnings; Occupational Choice

JEL Codes: I10, I15, J24, J30, O12, O55