MONDAY, Nov. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Do you know a happy kid?
Good news: He or she is more likely than an unhappy child to be
more affluent later in life.
So finds a new study that links well-being in American
adolescents to greater wealth by the time they reach 30.
The research doesn't definitively prove that happy kids have a
better chance of making more money when they grow up. And it's not
clear if inheriting money -- or marrying into it -- could be
Still, the findings do suggest the value of creating happy
environments for children, said study co-author Andrew Oswald, a
professor of economics at the University of Warwick in the United
Kingdom. "If you take our work at face value, it suggests that if
you could make young Americans happier, then they would later
become richer. It is possible that could work for a whole economy.
A happier U.S. would translate, eventually, into a richer one."
The researchers launched the study to "figure out what happiness
actually does," Oswald said. "We might think that human happiness
is important in itself as a goal, but does it cause other things,
perhaps other good things?"
To find out, the researchers examined a research project that
tracked U.S. kids from grades 7 to 12 into adulthood. Researchers
last interviewed the remaining participants -- almost 16,000 people
-- in 2008.
Overall, those who said they were very unhappy as adolescents
had incomes around age 29 that were 30 percent below the average,
the study found. On the other hand, those who said they were very
happy as kids had incomes that were 10 percent above the
The researchers found a connection between happiness and later
wealth even after adjusting the statistics so they wouldn't be
thrown off by larger or smaller numbers of participants who were of
certain ages, genders, IQs and ethnicities, among other
The study also examined how happiness after childhood might
affect wealth. Oswald's team found that a one-point increase in
life satisfaction (on a scale of 1 to 5) at age 22 was associated
with a growth in annual income of about $2,000 by the age of 29,
although it's not clear if the two events are directly linked.
Why might happier kids become richer adults? "Certainly, faster
job promotion is part of it," Oswald said. "Maybe that is because
happier people fit in better in organizations and make a useful
contribution to others' happiness and productivity."
That theory makes sense to Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of
psychology at the University of California, Riverside, who studies
happiness. Happy people are more likable, make a better impression
at job interviews and are more likely to get jobs, she said.
Lyubomirsky noted that society focuses on making money to become
happy, but the study suggests that the relationship might work both
"This says that if you're happy, you can be more successful. If you put work into becoming a happier person, you can get a lot of benefits from it -- one of them being more money," she said.
The study was published online Nov. 19 in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Want to boost your happiness by lowering anxiety? There are tips
on doing so at the
U.S. National Library of Medicine.