My research brief this week builds off John Hood’s Carolina Journal column this week to suggest personal discipline is necessary not just for healthy physical outcomes, but also for healthy fiscal outcomes.

Hood writes of the “Success Sequence” of “finishing high school, working full-time, and delaying childbirth until marriage.” This, he writes, “is strongly correlated with positive outcomes, both for adults and for their children.”

I add:

Basically, school, work, marriage, then kids is the “eat less and exercise” of upward economic mobility and avoiding poverty.

Getting and keeping a job requires personal discipline, too. I’ve written about the importance of “soft skills” in finding employment. Soft skills are an important though overlooked part of human capital. …

They are things that job-training charities such as StepUp Ministry, Jobs for Life, and STRIVE stress in helping their clients become productive. Their clients are those who have made poor life choices but are trying to reverse course, including recovering drug addicts, people with conviction records, unwed mothers, and deadbeat dads. …

One last thing that helps make someone employable: already having held a job. That tells future employers you have what it takes to be worth employing.

That fact has public-policy implications, too. We shouldn’t frustrate aspiring job seekers by imposing policies that have negative consequences (intended or not), such as hiking the minimum wage, requiring an occupational licensewithout a clear need for one, and automatically disqualifying people for licenses for a conviction record.

Policy discipline is important, too. Sometimes we know the answer but dislike its implications so much we try to avoid it to find the easier way around it — and usually fail.