Authors: Jani-Petteri Ollikainen, Tuomas Pekkarinen, Roope Uusitalo, and Hanna Virtanen

Publisher: Helsinki Graduate School of Economics

Publication: Helsinki GSE Discussion Papers 7/2023


We exploit admission cutoffs to secondary schools to study the effects of general academically oriented, versus vocational secondary schooling on cognitive and non-cognitive skills using a regression discontinuity design. We measure these skills using the Finnish Defence Forces Basic Skills Test that due to compulsory military service the vast majority of Finnish men take and that is a strong predictor of later labor market success. We find that the large differences in the average skills across students that differ in their schooling when entering military service are due to selection rather than causal effects of secondary schooling on either cognitive or non-cognitive skills.

JEL codes: J24, I21

Keywords: non-cognitive skills, regression discontinuity, secondary schooling