Researcher ORCID Identifier

Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Serkan Ozbeklik

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The growing importance of social skills has led to an increase in returns to wages and employment for workers specializing in social skill-intensive occupations. Between 2012 and 2019, social skill-intensive occupations grew by 3 percentage points as a share of the U.S. labor force. Math-intensive occupations also grew by a similar amount during this time. To analyze these patterns, I utilize a model of team production where workers trade tasks to exploit their comparative advantage. Social skills reduce coordination costs between workers and allow them to specialize and cooperate with other workers more effectively by trading tasks. This model predicts that workers adept in social skills sort into occupations that utilize and reward their abilities more, which is evaluated by looking at the changes between the NLSY79 and NLSY97 survey waves. Using various skill measures and covariates across these waves, I find that the positive labor market returns to social skills slightly diminished in the 2010s when compared to the greater returns of the 2000s.