Early maths skills linked to job later on

  • Deborah Condon

An adult's socioeconomic status may be linked to how good they were at reading and sums when they were seven years old, new research indicates.

There are many ongoing debates about the long-term impact that education standards can have on people, so psychological scientists at the University of Edinburgh set out to investigate whether early reading and maths skills affected adult life.

"We wanted to test whether being better at math or reading in childhood would be linked with a rise through the social ranks - a better job, better housing, and higher income as an adult," they explained.

They analysed data from a long-term study that had followed the progress of more than 17,000 people born in the late 1950s over a 50-year period. The data suggested that early reading and maths abilities had a long-term effect.

In fact, reading and maths skills at the age of seven appeared to be linked to a person's socioeconomic status 35 years later. Those who had better skills at the age of seven tended to have better jobs as adults, better housing and a higher income overall.

Going up just one reading level at the age of seven was associated with a increase in income of almost €6,000 at the age of 42.

"These findings imply that basic childhood skills, independent of how smart you are, how long you stay in school, or the social class you started off in, will be important throughout your life," the scientists commented.

Details of these findings are published in the journal, Psychological Science.



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