I’m definitely one of those parents that lies awake at night wondering if I was a complete nutcase for bringing a child into a world that is getting more expensive to navigate by the minute. Sometimes not having a big enough bank account makes me feel like I’m letting my child down, or not preparing him adequately for the future. Along comes a study that makes me feel like less of a failure.
Economists at University College London used data from a U.S. representative panel of over 10,000 individuals to explore how happiness influences income. From The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America:
Adolescents and young adults who report higher life satisfaction and emotional well-being earn significantly higher income later in life.
Reporting a profoundly unhappy adolescence was associated with a later income of about 30% less than average, whereas a very happy adolescence was associated with a later income of about 10% greater than average. In addition, a one-point increase in life satisfaction on a scale of 5 at age 22 was associated with an almost $2000 increase in yearly earnings at age 29.
Having a happy childhood was associated with such outcomes as becoming a more extroverted adult and an increased probability of obtaining a college degree. There seems to be a lot of common sense at play here. It is understandable that a happy, well adjusted child would have an easier time succeeding.
The current atmosphere of parenting puts so much emphasis on what we can afford to give our child. It’s kind of nice to hear some evidence that proves that good, old-fashioned nurturing and happiness does matter. When I wrote a piece about feeling limited by my parenting choices because of my finances, someone commented “Maybe people who are having trouble paying for daycare should be responsible adults and stop having kids when they can’t afford them. Birth control would be much cheaper.” Maybe this person is right, but I can confidently say that I do have a happy child. Expensive daycare or not.
I guess now someone has to do a study to see if there is a link between household income and happiness of children. That would totally rain on my parade though, so I think I’ll bask in the glory of this study for a few more days.