Happy Kids Earn More Money As Adults
There’s a debate between which the nature of happiness and success.
Does success bring happiness? Or does happiness create more success in our lives?
A recent study may help answer this question, and parents should pay attention. Happy kids earn more income when they pursue careers as adults.
Greater Happiness Means More Income
The investigation looked at the effects of happiness in our younger years and finds a noticeable effect on our income as we get older.
Researchers followed over 15,000 adolescents and young adults in the USA for 15 years. Their results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
So how big an impact does happiness have?
The data showed that the greater the happiness, the higher a person’s income. A one-point increase in a person’s life satisfaction when they were 22 equaled a $2,000 per year higher income at age 29. And having a higher salary early in your career may translate to even bigger differences later on.
If you didn’t grow up a happy child, there’s some bad news. The researchers compared happy kids with unhappy ones, and warn that:
…reporting a profoundly unhappy adolescence is associated with an income around age 29 that is 30% less than average, whereas a very happy adolescence is associated with a later income that is 10% above average.
What’s more is that this income advantage remained even after considering other important factors. This included a person’s IQ, education, self-esteem, and physical health.
The data showed differences even among children in the same family. Meaning that a happier brother or sister would go on to earn more than their less happy siblings.
The study showed that income would be an additional $4,000 more per year at age 29, when an adolescent’s life satisfaction was 1 point higher than the family’s average. The researchers say this highlights an important message for parents:
…these findings show that the emotional well-being of children and adolescents is key to their future success, yet another reason to ensure we create emotionally healthy home environments.
Why Do Happier People Earn More Money?
It’s an interesting question. Research has shown that the relationship between our income and our happiness can be bidirectional. It’s not just one affecting the other.
Being successful makes you happy, and being happy can also make you more successful. But psychologists didn’t always think that way, in fact the study’s results:
…reveal the strong possibility for reverse causality between income and happiness — a relationship that most have assumed unidirectional and causal.
The researchers believe that happiness affects your career in a number of ways. People who are happy are more likely to get a degree, get hired, and obtain promotions in the workplace. Happier people are also more outgoing, have higher degrees of optimism, and are less neurotic than their unhappy peers.
Other research studying the outcomes of happiness on money and performance back up these claims. Sociologist Christine Carter also talks about the benefits that happy children see as adults in Raising Happiness:
On average, happy people are more successful than unhappy people at both work and love.
They get better performance reviews, have more prestigious jobs, and earn higher salaries.
Why Happiness Matters
Some people say that happiness is overrated.
But they probably don’t realize how much it colors our perspective, our behavior, and how we see the world. There’s plenty of research-backed benefits of happiness. The study is just one example of how happiness helps create success in our lives.
Sure, money isn’t everything, but you can’t argue it’s an excellent fringe benefit.