Childhood Aggression Linked to Higher Adult Earnings: Bullies Cash In

An almost 50-year-long study into the long-term economic value of childhood skills has discovered some revealing facts about playground bullies that might come as a shock to some. Let’s take a look at the findings.

The Truth About Aggressive Kids and Success

Researchers at the University of Essex have been tracking data from over a span of almost 50 years and discovered that the movies may have lied to us – it might actually pay to be mean.

They found that children who are more aggressive and prone to tantrums or bullying are more likely to end up with better pay, a higher level of job satisfaction, and working in more desirable sectors.

Mean Kids, Big Paychecks

The team noted they’re more likely to find “higher wages, higher labour supply, sorting into ‘good’ jobs and higher productivity conditional on job tasks.”

They also discovered that when teachers noticed more behavior issues like tantrums, bullying, or teasing among kids, those same kids tended to earn about 4% more in 2016 – regardless of gender.

This increase was smaller than the 6% boost seen in earnings for those with better thinking skills but still noticeable.

The Telltale Signs of Future Prosperity

In a study that tracked the data of 7000 people born in 1970, researchers analyzed grade school reports completed by teachers, assessing the social and emotional skills of the children at the age of 10.

They then compared these assessments with the individuals’ lives at the age of 46 in 2016.

Teachers answered over 60 questions about their pupils’ behavior, which was used to form a comprehensive model of each child’s emotional development and compared to data from 2016.

Are Kids Learning to Compete Too Aggressively?

Researchers theorize that aggressive behavior patterns could be “the adaptive response to a competitive environment.”

One author suggested that classrooms are like battlegrounds, where kids learn to compete aggressively, trying to win and get ahead.

Then they carry that attitude into the workplace – always fighting for the top-paying jobs.

Rethinking Discipline

“Perhaps we need to reconsider discipline in schools and help to channel this characteristic in children in a more positive way,” they commented.

The study found that conversely, “problems with attention, emotions, and peer relationships tend to lead to poorer labor market outcomes.”

It charted “a significant negative association between attention problems and interest in a business career” and discovered that “emotional problems strongly predict mental health measured in adolescence.”

The Key to Long-Term Earning Potential

The authors claim their findings “provide strong support for policies and interventions that focus on the development of these skills in the early years,” as these skills will affect kids’ long-term earning potential.

“Rather than a punitive approach, there could be more focus on understanding the causes of the disruptive behavior, and teachers could be trained to identify strategies which help children to channel these tendencies in more productive ways,” the study authors state.

The researcher’s findings are similar to those of other work on this topic.

The Sports Advantage

A 2023 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that students who were involved in sports at Ivy League colleges tended to earn around 3.4% more (in total over their entire lives) than their peers who weren’t into sports. This made a huge difference – around $220,000.

A 2019 study by economists found that behaviors like aggression and hyperactivity – which they called “externalizing” behaviors – were linked to lower levels of education but higher earnings later in life.

Beyond the Boardroom

It’s not all peaches and cream for these high-flyers. Despite the potential positives, there are also some negatives.

The study found that kids that showed more aggressive behaviors were more likely to drink and smoke “and engage in criminal behaviours later in life. ”

If CEOs’ reported behaviors are anything to go by, it seems a lot of class bullies don’t lose their mean streak as they grow up.

A Growing Concern in Executive Suites

Numerous companies have been caught in controversies surrounding bullying and harassment among their top executives in recent years, likely a symptom of a broader issue of toxic workplace environments.

Plenty of CEOs have been in trouble for controlling and manipulative conduct and even instances of discrimination and harassment.

While aggressive behavior may lead to certain advantages in the workplace, it also has drawbacks. Educators must navigate these complexities to create a positive learning environment and set students up for success.

The post Bully for Them: Study Finds Childhood Aggression Could Lead to Higher Earnings in Adulthood first appeared on Swift Feed.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / SeventyFour.

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