Researchers have revealed that the kids most popular in high school turn out to be the highest earners in the workplace as adults.
According to the study by four scholars writing under the aegis of National Bureau of Economic Research, the more friends you had in high school the greater will be your earning power later on in life.
AdvertisementTo arrive at that conclusion, the researchers dove into a body of data called the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS), which, according to its website, is a long-term study of a random sample of 10,317 men and women who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957.
A wide range of information about this group has been compiled from the inception of the study through 2008.
The scholars restricted their analysis to 4,330 white, male WLS respondents.
"Our main variables of interest are adolescent friendship ties and adult earnings," ABC News quoted them as writing.
To quantify those friendship ties they looked to see how many 'friendship nominations' a student had received. Apparently if you went to school in Wisconsin in the '50s, you could list the names of fellow students whom you considered to be your friends.
The scholars determined which students in the sample had amassed the most nominations. They then looked at the earning power of these same students in adult life.
Their conclusion was that the popular kids earned more than their unpopular peers.
"The popularity premium is substantial," the authors wrote.
"An increase in the stock of popularity, measured by an additional friendship nomination received in high school, is associated with about 2 percent higher wages 35 years later," they wrote.
That premium, they write, is roughly equivalent to the benefit enjoyed by students who gained another year of schooling.
"We estimate that moving from the 20th to the 80th percentile of the high school popularity distribution yields a 10 percent wage premium nearly 40 years later," they wrote.
They advance several theories for this phenomenon, including that the social connections made by popular students might somehow later serve them in their working lives.