Inattentive Kindergarteners Make Less Money as Adults, According to New Study

It's not just your IQ that matters.

children who are inattentive are less successful later on in life

If you want your kid to grow up to be financially successful, a new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry says you should pay close attention to how they behave early on in life, particularly if they have trouble focusing.

Researchers at the University of Montreal examined the link between the behavior of 2,850 Canadian kindergarteners in the 1980s and the salaries they made once they were in their 30s. The researchers looked at personality traits such as attention span, hyperactivity, physical aggression, obedience, anxiety, and sympathy levels—and they found that several factors influenced their annual earnings later on in life.

Among both boys and girls, the personality trait that was linked with making less money as adults was inattention, i.e. the inability to focus on tasks and the tendency to get easily distracted.

For boys specifically, being more likely to help others at the age of five or six was associated with making more money, and refusing to share, being oppositional, and acting aggressive were associated with lower earnings. The researchers believe that parents and teachers should be especially mindful of these traits in children if they want them to grow up to be successful adults when it comes to finances.

"Our study suggests that kindergarten teachers can identify behaviors associated with lower earnings three decades later," Daniel Nagin, professor of public policy and statistics at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College and co-author of the study, said in a press release. "Early monitoring and support for children who exhibit high levels of inattention, and for boys who exhibit high levels of aggression and opposition and low levels of prosocial behavior could have long-term socioeconomic advantages for those individuals and society."

Study c0-author Sylvana M. Côté, associate professor of social and preventative medicine at the University of Montreal, noted that "early behaviors are modifiable, arguably more so than traditional factors associated with earnings, such as IQ and socioeconomic status, making them key targets for early intervention."

She added: "If early behavioral problems are associated with lower earnings, addressing these behaviors is essential to helping children—through screenings and the development of intervention programs—as early as possible."

And for more on how your childhood paves the way for your success later in life, check out New Study Finds That Older Children Are Smarter Than Their Younger Siblings.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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