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Evidence On Life Cycle Skill Formation

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Discuss about the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation.



Lifecycle skill formation is an economic model that describes the development of skills in a child. The model explains that there are intrinsic as well as external factors that influence the development of a child's skills. The intrinsic factors include age, sex, physical intelligence, and psychosocial measures. For the external factors or the environmental factors, they include sidewalks, distance, pathways, amenities, safety, and policies. The model also indicates that skill development ability reduces as one ages. This is due to reduced engagement in physical activity. Moreover, Income is also cited as another factor that contributes to the reduction of physical activity (Cunha et al., 2017).

Building blocks of physical activity

According to Laureate James Heckman an economist, physical activity is made up of both cognitive as well as noon-cognitive blocks. The cognitive block is the one associated with intelligence of an individual while the non-cognitive block is associated with the level of internal motivation and social beliefs. The combination of the two blocks contributes heavily to the behavior and health outcomes of an individual (Klika, 2017).

The Economist continues and differentiates between skills and abilities. Ability is that which one can do and is inbuilt or acquired due to previous learning experience, while a skill is something one acquires through learning. During the development of skills through physical activity, it is found out that there are those stages when the skills are easily inculcated, this period is referred to as the sensitive period, they are stages which an individual is more productive in terms of skill development. As one continues to improve their skills, through skill development during the sensitive periods, one attains self-productivity in which a skill learned at a particular stage helps in developing another skill in another stage. For instance, a person may learn to hold a pen in his/her childhood stage and later use the skill to inscribe letters on a book and finally learn to construct a meaningful message (Krishnamoorthy, 2009).


Once an individual has attained the self-productivity stage, he/she can now use the already learned skills to learn new ones. This is known as complementarity. Complementarity capitalizes on the skills developed earlier in other stages of development. Complementarity increases the productivity of skills that had been learnt at a later stage of life. It is proven that investment made earlier in life whether financially or skill wise magnifies the returns on investment made later in life ("The 5 Building Blocks towards Increasing Physical Activity", 2017).

The multiplier effect is the abilities and skills that are resulted from merging complementarity with self-productivity. This effect builds on the current abilities to acquire more skills during development. According to life cycle skills formation model, the most basic skills increases the opportunities to add value of any future skill one wants to develop. Moreover, the investment made earlier in life through education e.g. physical education is higher and more important than investment developed later in life independently. For instance, investment in kids' development compared to investing on oneself at old age (Klika, 2017).


Just as in economics, the investment made later in life yields less without investment made earlier in life. With the view of this insight, it is evident that the individual’s developmental environment such as parenting that did not promote cognitive and non-cognitive skill development mainly disadvantages individuals. Therefore, in shaping great outcomes, families play a significant role in skills development. As cited in the paper, investments made in late stages are not as productive. Consequently, efforts made to intervene to compensate for the earlier disadvantage, such as a job-training program, are not as effective.



Cunha, F., Heckman, J., Lochner, L., & Masterov, D. (2017). Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation. NBER. Retrieved 25 March 2017, from

Klika, B. (2017). The Foundational Building Blocks of Physical Literacy. ACE Fitness. Retrieved 25 March 2017, from

Krishnamoorthy, S. (2009). Family Formation and the Life Cycle. Demography, 16(1), 121.

The 5 Building Blocks Towards Increasing Physical Activity. (2017). O2 Fitness Clubs. Retrieved 25 March 2017, from

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