Popular High Schoolers Earn More Later In Life, Study Shows

So Much For 'Revenge Of The Nerds'
a woman making the loser sign...
a woman making the loser sign...

Looks like the popular kids from high school are getting the last laugh after all.

A fresh look at data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study -- a survey of over 10,000 people who graduated from a Wisconsin high school in 1957 -- found that students who were popular in high school earned 2 percent more 35 years down the road than their classmates with less friends. The additional earnings are almost equal to half of the extra income they would have earned, if they'd had an extra year of school, conclude researchers at the National Bureau of Economic research.

The researchers also found that “turning a social reject into a star” would translate into a 10 percent wage advantage later in life. These results may signal the importance of developing social skills early on.

Another study of 1,000 New Zealanders recently showed that popularity in high school is linked with happiness later in life. Rather than academic achievement being the number one predictor of "adult well-being," the researchers found that "adolescent social connectedness" was more important.

Less income later on isn’t the only undesirable characteristic associated with unpopularity in school. Researchers at the Umea University in Sweden discovered that children who had less friends were more like to suffer from health problems like obesity and high blood pressure once they reached their 40s.

Studies like these run contrary to a seeming abundance of "Revenge of The Nerds"-type data. Alexandra Robbins, author of the book “The Geeks Shall Inherit The World,” found that the characteristics that made teens less popular with their peers, such as individuality and creativity, led to more success later in life, The Washington Post reports.

Less popular kids are also less likely to smoke. A Sept. 6 study from the Journal of Adolescent Health found that students who were listed by other students as friends were more likely to start smoking earlier than students who were less connected to their peers.

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