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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter January 28, 2014

Do Parents’ Social Skills Influence Their Children’s Sociability?

Tsunao Okumura and Emiko Usui

Abstract

This article uses the U.S. National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79) to examine the effect of parents’ social skills on their children’s sociability. Similar to many other national surveys, this survey lacks detailed information on parents. To remedy this deficiency, we construct a measure of parents’ sociability skills based on their occupational characteristics extracted from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). Even after controlling for a variety of background characteristics, including cognitive skills, we find that the sociability relationships between fathers and sons and between mothers and daughters remain statistically significant. We find that the dollar value to the sons of a given increase in their fathers’ sociability is one-sixth of the value to the sons of the same standard-deviation increase in their fathers’ education.

JEL Classification: J24; J62

Acknowledgments

For their helpful comments, we would like to thank Joseph Altonji, Sheng-Kai Chang, Seik Kim, Peter Kuhn, Hideo Owan, and the participants in meetings held at Hitotsubashi University, Oakland University, Osaka University, the Trans-Pacific Labor Seminar, and the University of Michigan. Additionally, we are grateful to the participants of the annual meetings of the North American Econometric Society, the European Association of Labour Economists, and the Society of Labor Economists. This research is supported by JSPS grant 22000001 (Usui).

Appendix

Appendix Table 1

Definitions of the variables from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT)

VariableDescription
People-skill variables
Relation to peopleComplexity at which worker performs job in relation to people, from highest to lowest: Mentoring, negotiating, instructing, supervising, diverting, persuading, speaking-signaling, serving. Taking instructions-helping.
Dealing with peopleAdaptability to dealing with people beyond giving and receiving instructions.
Influencing peopleAdaptability to influencing people in their opinions, attitudes, or judgments about ideas or things.
Interpreting FeelingsAdaptability to situations involving the interpretation of feeling, ideas, or facts in terms of personal viewpoint.
Talking and/or hearingPresence or absence of talking and/or hearing.
Communicating dataA preference for activities concerned with the communication of data versus a preference for activities for dealing with things and objects.
Business contact with peopleA preference for activities involving business contact with people versus a preference for activities of a scientific and technical nature.
Working for good of peopleA preference for working for the presumed good of people versus a preference for activities that are carried on in relation to processes, machines, and techniques.
Non-people-skill variables
Cognitive-skill variables:
Relation to dataComplexity at which worker performs job in relation to data, from highest to lowest: Synthesizing, coordinating, analyzing, compiling, computing, copying, comparing.
ReasoningGeneral educational development (GED) in reasoning required for job, ranging from being able to apply logical or scientific thinking to wide range of intellectual and practical problems, to being able to apply commonsense understanding to carry out simple instructions.
MathematicsGED in mathematics required for job, from knowledge of advanced calculus, modern algebra and statistics; algebra, geometry and shop math; to simple addition and subtraction.
LanguageGED in language required for job, from reading literature, writing editorials and speeches, and conversant in persuasive speaking and debate; to reading at rate of 95–120 words per minute or vocabulary of 2,500 words and writing and speaking simple sentences.
Specific vocational preparationSVP is the amount of time required to learn the techniques, acquire the information, and develop the facility needed for average performance in a specific job-worker situation.
General learningAbility to “catch on” or understand instructions and underlying principles; ability to reason and make judgments.
VerbalAbility to understand meaning of words and to use them effectively. Ability to comprehend language, to understand relationships between words, and to understand meanings of whole sentences and paragraphs.
NumericalAbility to perform arithmetic operations quickly and accurately.
Clerical perceptionAbility to perceive pertinent detail in verbal or tabular material. Ability to observe differences in copy, to proofread words and numbers, and to avoid perceptual errors in arithmetic computation. A measure of perception which is required in many industrial jobs even when the job does not have verbal or numerical content.
Plan activityAdaptability to accepting responsibility for the direction, control or planning of an activity.
Make evaluationsAdaptability to making generalizations, evaluations, or decisions based on sensory or judgmental criteria.
Creative activityA preference for activities of an abstract and creative nature versus a preference for activities of a routine, concrete, organized nature.
Esteem of othersA preference for activities resulting in prestige or the esteem of others versus a preference for activities resulting in tangible productive satisfaction.
Motor-skills variables:
Relation to thingsComplexity at which worker performs job in relation to things: Setting-Up, Precision Working, Operating-Controlling, Driving-Operating, Manipulating, Tending, Feeding-Offbearing, Handling.
Finger dexterityAbility to move fingers, and manipulate small objects with fingers, rapidly or accurately.
Motor coordinationAbility to coordinate eyes and hands or fingers rapidly and accurately in making precise movements with speed. Ability to make a movement response accurately and swiftly.
Manual dexterityAbility to move the hands easily and skillfully. Ability to work with the hands in placing and turning motions.
Eye-hand-foot coordinationAbility to move the hand and foot coordinately with each other in accordance with visual stimuli.
Spatial perceptionAbility to think visually of geometric forms and to comprehend the two-dimensional representation of three-dimensional objects. Ability to recognize the relationships resulting from the movement of objects in space.
Form perceptionAbility to perceive pertinent detail in objects or in pictorial or graphic material. Ability to make visual comparisons and discriminations and see slight differences in shapes and shadings of figures and widths and lengths of lines.
Color discriminationAbility to match or discriminate between colors in terms of hue, saturation, and brilliance. Ability to identify a particular color or color combination from memory and to perceive contrasting color combinations.
Precisely set limitsAdaptability to situations requiring the precise attainment of set limits, tolerances or standards.
Repetitive workAdaptability to performing repetitive work, or to continuously performing the same work, according to set procedures, sequence, or pace.
Make judgmentsAdaptability to making generalizations, judgments, or decisions based on measurable or verifiable criteria.
Perform variety of dutiesAdaptability to performing a variety of duties, often changing from one task to another of a different nature without loss of efficiency or composure.
Under stressAdaptability to performing under stress when confronted with emergency, critical, unusual, or dangerous situations; or in situations in which working speed and sustained attention are make or break aspects of the job.
Physical-strength variables:
StrengthStrength rating reflects the estimated overall strength requirement of the job.
ClimbingIndicate the presence or absence of climbing.
StoopingIndicate the presence or absence of stooping.
ReachingIndicate the presence or absence of reaching.
SeeingIndicate the presence or absence of seeing.

Appendix Table 2

Effect of NLSY respondents’ sociability on their job characteristics.Sample: NLSY respondents

Dependent variable(Separate regression)Independent variable
Sociability at age 6Sociability in early adulthood
(1)(2)
Dealing with people0.033**0.041**
(0.007)(0.007)
Talking0.034**0.041**
(0.007)(0.007)
Hearing0.033**0.040**
(0.006)(0.006)
Communicating data0.031**0.034**
(0.007)(0.007)
Business contact with people0.040**0.056**
(0.008)(0.008)
Working for good of people0.027**0.036**
(0.007)(0.007)
Interpreting feelings0.0100.007
(0.008)(0.008)
Influencing people0.028**0.028**
(0.006)(0.006)
Relation to people0.030**0.035**
(0.006)(0.006)
Average of all the DOT people skills0.040**0.046**
(0.007)(0.007)
People-task of Borghans et al. (2006)0.044**0.056**
(0.007)(0.007)

Appendix Table 3

Effect of parents’ DOT people skills on children’s sociability

Independent variable(Separate regression)ChildrenSonsDaughters
Dependent variable
Sociability at age 6Sociability in early adulthoodSociability at age 6Sociability in early adulthoodSociability at age 6Sociability in early adulthood
(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)
Fathers
Dealing with people0.062**0.057**0.0290.066**0.090**0.051*
(0.020)(0.020)(0.028)(0.029)(0.028)(0.029)
Talking and/or hearing0.054**0.050**0.0360.075**0.069**0.030
(0.021)(0.021)(0.031)(0.032)(0.029)(0.029)
Communicating data0.064**0.042*0.0370.0500.090**0.034
(0.021)(0.022)(0.031)(0.031)(0.030)(0.030)
Business contact with people0.049**0.056**0.0310.061**0.068**0.048*
(0.018)(0.019)(0.025)(0.027)(0.026)(0.027)
Working for good of people0.040*0.054**0.0160.064**0.061**0.046
(0.021)(0.022)(0.031)(0.031)(0.030)(0.030)
Interpreting feelings−0.0190.005−0.0070.035−0.033−0.032
(0.020)(0.022)(0.030)(0.033)(0.025)(0.026)
Influencing people0.022−0.00010.009−0.0020.0350.0002
(0.019)(0.019)(0.028)(0.027)(0.027)(0.027)
Relation to people0.048**0.056**0.0010.0370.088**0.074**
(0.021)(0.022)(0.031)(0.032)(0.030)(0.030)
Average of all the DOT people skills0.051**0.050**0.0250.059**0.076**0.042
(0.019)(0.019)(0.027)(0.027)(0.026)(0.027)
People-task of Borghans et al. (2006)0.044**0.046**0.0220.058**0.065**0.035
(0.018)(0.018)(0.026)(0.026)(0.025)(0.026)
Mothers
Dealing with people0.043**0.058**0.0440.063*0.0400.046
(0.021)(0.023)(0.031)(0.033)(0.029)(0.031)
Talking and/or hearing0.039*0.056**0.0300.0510.0440.054*
(0.022)(0.023)(0.033)(0.034)(0.030)(0.032)
Communicating data0.065**0.082**0.061*0.089**0.069**0.072**
(0.023)(0.024)(0.033)(0.035)(0.032)(0.034)
Business contact with people0.057**0.047**0.0480.051*0.064**0.039
(0.020)(0.021)(0.029)(0.031)(0.028)(0.028)
Working for good of people0.0040.0180.0320.055−0.020−0.019
(0.022)(0.023)(0.033)(0.034)(0.030)(0.031)
Interpreting feelings−0.0001−0.0280.042−0.005−0.040−0.052
(0.023)(0.023)(0.030)(0.031)(0.034)(0.033)
Influencing people0.0380.064**0.0390.0650.0380.060
(0.028)(0.029)(0.043)(0.040)(0.038)(0.043)
Relation to people0.0360.075**0.0430.077**0.0280.070*
(0.025)(0.026)(0.037)(0.038)(0.035)(0.037)
Average of all the DOT people skills0.053**0.068**0.063*0.082**0.0440.049
(0.023)(0.024)(0.034)(0.035)(0.032)(0.034)
People-task of Borghans et al. (2006)0.055**0.060**0.075**0.084**0.0360.029
(0.025)(0.026)(0.036)(0.037)(0.034)(0.036)

Appendix Table 4

Factor analysis for DOT skills

Panel A: NLSY fathers
VariablesFactor loadingsUniqueness
123456
Data0.951−0.069−0.138−0.0080.0640.0020.067
Math0.9410.025−0.1040.015−0.1450.0250.081
Reasoning0.937−0.020−0.1990.1390.0360.0180.061
Language0.893−0.163−0.2180.2380.0120.0580.068
SVP0.9340.138−0.002−0.050−0.039−0.0520.103
General learning0.880−0.185−0.2140.1790.0120.1580.088
Verbal0.872−0.199−0.3010.1850.058−0.0550.069
Numerical0.8680.005−0.2080.114−0.167−0.0690.157
Clerical perception0.659−0.310−0.4510.199−0.0130.1160.213
Plan activity0.8680.1310.0460.1680.080−0.2030.151
Make evaluations0.692−0.473−0.155−0.2750.0050.2080.155
Creative activity0.537−0.1770.0310.5110.2620.1360.331
Esteem of others0.196−0.613−0.542−0.1650.152−0.0390.240
Relation to people0.617−0.463−0.3160.2760.2930.1060.132
Dealing with people0.418−0.553−0.3990.1960.405−0.2580.091
Talking and/or hearing0.538−0.418−0.3550.1470.418−0.2500.151
Communicate data0.468−0.445−0.4300.3900.344−0.2010.088
Business contact0.034−0.498−0.2930.0030.420−0.5300.208
Work for good of people0.185−0.613−0.3120.3970.181−0.0890.294
Interpret feeling0.100−0.006−0.0470.521−0.0570.0680.708
Influencing people0.189−0.360−0.1780.7290.007−0.2410.213
Relation to things0.0830.8430.340−0.118−0.0290.1640.126
Motor coordination−0.2320.8540.0010.0520.1180.0530.198
Form perception0.5930.6300.016−0.062−0.017−0.0960.237
Spatial perception0.3260.6770.210−0.1740.1050.2520.287
Finger dexterity0.1900.8550.0280.024−0.151−0.2500.147
Manual dexterity−0.3270.8190.195−0.1420.0240.0000.164
Eye-hand-foot coordination−0.3350.2520.565−0.0660.2750.3690.289
Color discrimination0.0360.5300.1320.1580.2020.4270.453
Precisely set limits−0.0150.7520.152−0.242−0.374−0.2340.158
Repetitive work−0.860−0.097−0.100−0.087−0.1140.3170.120
Make judgments0.5010.5430.219−0.316−0.193−0.0790.264
Perform variety of duties0.5390.1520.485−0.2710.135−0.0190.359
Under stress−0.0700.041−0.012−0.0460.7760.0290.388
Strength−0.5270.3440.656−0.072−0.0010.0670.164
Climbing−0.0640.1550.870−0.080−0.090−0.0070.200
Stooping−0.2920.2670.823−0.100−0.0890.0700.144
Reaching−0.5090.6490.325−0.155−0.0290.2350.134
Seeing−0.0610.7800.185−0.2050.1350.2880.211
Eigenvalue12.4578.6934.4642.2681.9231.483
% of variance0.3190.2230.1150.0580.0490.038

Appendix Table 4

Factor analysis for DOT skills

Panel B: NLSY mothers
VariablesFactor loadingsUniqueness
12345678
Data0.910−0.1470.1100.071−0.095−0.129−0.0690.1570.079
Math0.9020.0610.0310.027−0.1790.146−0.104−0.0140.117
Reasoning0.9540.0440.1070.073−0.0790.1260.0240.0230.048
Language0.927−0.0150.208−0.002−0.0070.1160.043−0.0470.079
SVP0.9080.1060.0400.2350.048−0.0020.0330.1460.084
General learning0.9170.1570.2130.014−0.122−0.050−0.056−0.0600.064
Verbal0.8840.0770.3610.037−0.119−0.027−0.022−0.0820.060
Numerical0.8200.164−0.041−0.173−0.3150.002−0.176−0.0440.136
Clerical perception0.7730.2330.087−0.383−0.200−0.002−0.112−0.1000.132
Plan activity0.822−0.0070.1350.0820.058−0.0820.3580.1450.140
Make evaluations0.576−0.4560.0340.2380.069−0.231−0.3340.0530.230
Creative activity0.6000.0470.273−0.1390.078−0.3600.4800.1880.143
Esteem of others0.280−0.3380.2950.1870.042−0.088−0.558−0.3740.225
Relation to people0.710−0.2970.473−0.103−0.129−0.0660.1430.0130.132
Dealing with people0.410−0.0950.8420.002−0.0730.2520.017−0.0670.041
Talking and/or hearing0.482−0.1350.785−0.053−0.0940.2600.011−0.0570.052
Communicate data0.645−0.0580.664−0.146−0.0490.0890.104−0.0910.090
Business contact0.0240.0350.802−0.320−0.123−0.340−0.1550.0550.095
Work for good of people0.345−0.3910.405−0.1340.1850.5490.043−0.1690.180
Interpret feeling0.1530.008−0.0400.057−0.004−0.0800.0560.8540.234
Influencing people0.285−0.4920.154−0.049−0.416−0.0910.1920.0770.427
Relation to things0.1060.854−0.1740.0000.028−0.0520.1450.2460.145
Motor coordination0.1000.8490.2260.013−0.180−0.1330.097−0.1100.147
Form perception0.5470.6660.002−0.0120.004−0.2130.275−0.0330.135
Spatial perception0.0540.242−0.1090.819−0.0850.0180.1820.1350.198
Finger dexterity0.0990.8730.100−0.040−0.1210.0180.079−0.1410.176
Manual dexterity−0.4780.677−0.0060.1000.2330.1570.0840.2280.165
Eye-hand-foot coordination−0.301−0.103−0.0030.5740.3590.2570.213−0.1610.303
Color discrimination0.0490.2560.0170.196−0.0140.0480.814−0.0200.227
Precisely set limits0.1580.843−0.3340.004−0.120−0.040−0.053−0.1120.122
Repetitive work−0.6920.067−0.3060.109−0.092−0.267−0.134−0.2200.265
Make judgments0.2100.051−0.1510.742−0.0590.128−0.141−0.0220.339
Perform variety of duties0.4180.1230.094−0.4160.6310.1560.204−0.0180.163
Under stress0.0500.1510.0910.2890.0280.8520.019−0.0460.154
Strength−0.501−0.228−0.2370.3920.2260.3450.3040.1780.193
Climbing−0.227−0.150−0.1490.1350.661−0.171−0.072−0.0240.414
Stooping−0.384−0.237−0.103−0.1060.7000.305−0.0020.0980.182
Reaching−0.6060.6320.0130.0050.1070.163−0.0050.1710.167
Seeing0.0810.838−0.1010.196−0.0870.1070.0930.0800.209
Eigenvalue12.3196.2263.7032.6142.1502.1201.9951.383
% of variance0.3160.1600.0950.0670.0550.0540.0510.036

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  1. 1

    In an exceptional work by Dohmen et al. (2012), the researchers investigate the intergenerational transmission of risk and trust attitudes using the 2003 and 2004 waves of the German Socio-economic Panel (GSOEP).

  2. 2

    Psychological studies examining the intergenerational link in traits and behaviors use homogenous subsamples. However, the disadvantages of using homogenous subsamples over large and representative population samples are the following: (1) homogenous subsamples suffer from attenuation bias, (2) they focus on maternal rather than paternal characteristics (Duncan et al. 2005), and (3) the estimated effect of parents’ sociability on children’s wages might not represent the population as a whole.

  3. 3

    The assumption that workers hold occupations that match their traits and personalities also corresponds to the following observation by Robert Hauser (1998, 5): “Job-holding tells us about the technical and social skills that we bring to the labor market. … As market labor has become nearly universal among adult women as well as men, it is increasingly possible to characterize individuals in terms of their own current or past jobs.”

  4. 4

    Spearman (1904) proposes the existence of general intelligence, termed g, which is a single general factor that governs an individual’s level of intelligence.

  5. 5

    The intergenerational link in sociability estimated in this article is not necessarily causal, if there remain unobserved factors that affect children’s sociability and that are correlated with parents’ people skills.

  6. 6

    Lundberg (2005) reviews the literature on son preferences and documents that fathers spend more time and are more involved with their sons than with their daughters. This paternal behavior could explain why we find evidence of a stronger sociability link between fathers and sons than between fathers and daughters.

  7. 7

    The most widely accepted taxonomy of personality traits is called the Big Five or the five-factor model (FFM). The Big Five factors are openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Sociability is included under extroversion, which is characterized by facets such as gregariousness, assertiveness, activity, and outgoingness. See McCrae and John (1992) and Borghans, Duckworth, Heckman, and ter Weel (2008) for details.

  8. 8

    Autor, Levy, and Murnane (2003) and Bacolod and Blum (2010) also utilize textual definitions to classify the DOT variables and thereby analyze changes in skill requirements and skill returns in the United States. Ingram and Neumann (2006) perform a factor analysis on the revised fourth-edition DOT data to reduce the data to a smaller set of dimensions. We also implement a factor analysis to corroborate our choice of skill categories. Most of our skill categorizations are consistent with the grouping from the factor analysis.

  9. 9

    If information on the parents’ occupations when the respondent was 14 is unavailable, we use their occupation in 1978, when the respondent was between the ages of 13 and 21.

  10. 10

    We report robust standard errors clustered by mothers.

  11. 11

    Duncan et al. (2005) estimate standardized regression coefficients for mother–child links in sociability (both at age 6) for a sample that includes all racial groups. They cluster the answers on the mothers’ sociability at age 6 into two values: zero for shyness (answers 1 or 2) and one for outgoing (answers 3 or 4). They find that the estimate for sociability is 0.13 for both mother–daughter and mother–son pairs (standard errors are not reported in their article). When we restrict the age range of children to 6, as in Duncan et al., the estimate for sociability is 0.039 (0.034) for the mother–daughter link and 0.004 (0.030) for the mother–son link. The effect for daughters is greater than the effect for the sons, although the difference is insignificant.

  12. 12

    For people skills, the first principal component explains 62.8% of the variance in the matrix correlations for fathers and 55.8% of the variance for mothers. For cognitive skills, they are 71.7% for fathers and 68.8% for mothers, respectively; for motor skills, they are 43.1% for fathers and 33.8% for mothers; and for physical strength, they are 67.2% for fathers and 42.1% for mothers.

  13. 13

    The estimated factor loadings for each DOT variable are displayed in Appendix Table 4, Panel A for the sample of NLSY fathers and in Panel B for the NLSY mothers. For fathers, the first, second, and third factors are identified as cognitive skills, motor skills, and physical strength, respectively. The fourth and fifth factors are identified as people skills; the fourth factor has a relatively higher loading on “interpret feelings” and “influence people”; and the fifth factor has a relatively higher loading on “deal with people,” “communicate data,” and “talking/hearing.” We label the fifth factor as people skills, because when using the sample of NLSY respondents, we find DOT people-skill variables that are highly loaded on the fifth factor are more strongly linked with their own sociability measures (see Appendix Table 2). For mothers, the first, second, third, and fourth factors are labeled cognitive skills, motor skills, people skills, and physical strength, respectively.

  14. 14

    The first principal component explains 32.2% of the variance in the matrix of correlations for fathers and 46.5% of the variance for mothers.

  15. 15

    The fathers’ “verbal” skill (the DOT cognitive-skill variable) has a positive effect of 0.210 (0.111) on their sons’ sociability in early adulthood (result not reported in Table 5). “Verbal” skill is likely to be related to both cognitive and people skills because according to the DOT variable description in Appendix Table 1, this skill refers to the ability to understand the meaning of words and use them effectively, to comprehend language, to understand the relationships between words, and to understand the meanings of whole sentences and paragraphs. Therefore, both the adjusted people skills (which do not overlap with “verbal”) and “verbal” skill of fathers have a positive effect on their sons’ sociability.

  16. 16

    The correlation coefficient between the Rotter scale and early-adulthood sociability is 0.083. The correlation coefficient between the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale and early-adulthood sociability is 0.157.

  17. 17

    For the regression on the sons’ sociability at age 6, the coefficient of the Rotter score is 0.060 (0.025), and the coefficient of the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale is 0.101 (0.027). For the regression on the sons’ early-adulthood sociability, the coefficient of the Rotter score is 0.033 (0.027), and the coefficient of the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale is 0.186 (0.028).

  18. 18

    The estimate controls for the same covariates as in Table 5.

  19. 19

    Sociability in early adulthood is standardized to have a mean of zero and a variance of one. The regression controls for education, a quadratic in the AFQT score and age, marital status, place of residence (region and urban area), and year dummies.

Published Online: 2014-1-28
Published in Print: 2014-7-1

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin / Boston

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