Happy adolescents are more likely to become wealthy adults than teens who do not have happy childhoods, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at University College London and published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy Of Sciences).

Data from 15,000 teens and young adults in the U.S. were examined by Dr Jan-Emmanuel De Neve from UCL Political Science and Professor Andrew Oswald from the University of Warwick. They discovered that the individuals who had higher ‘positive affect’, the scientific term for happiness, or higher ‘life satisfaction’, were more likely to make notably higher income than those who reported lower levels.

The researchers believe this link is present because people who are happy have higher chances of earning a degree, finding jobs, and being promoted compared with individuals who act somber.

Happiness has a major effect on income. The study revealed that, on a scale from 1 to 5, a 1 point increase at 22 years old is linked to close to an almost $2,000 increase in salary per year at 29 years old, in addition to other influencing factors on earnings.

During the study, the experts looked at sibling comparisons and discovered that even when kids are raised in the same family, the more joyful adolescents end up making more money later in life. The report says these results are concrete because they included other influencing factors, such as genetic variation, IQ, self-esteem, health, education, and how the individuals were currently feeling in terms of happiness.

In addition, the experts studied how happiness can affect income. The report states that mediation tests show direct and indirect results which reiterate the impact of happiness on income. The researchers note important mediating pathways, such as earning a degree and finding a job, higher levels of hopefulness, outgoingness, and low levels of anxiousness.

Dr De Neve concluded:

“These findings have important implications for academics, policy makers, and the general public. For academics they reveal the strong possibility for reverse causality between income and happiness – a relationship that most have assumed unidirectional and causal. For policy makers, they highlight the importance of promoting general well-being (GWB), not just because happiness is what the general population aspires to (instead of GDP) but also for its economic impact.

Perhaps most importantly, for the general public – and parents in particular – these findings show that the emotional well-being of children and adolescents is key to their future success, yet another reason to ensure we create emotionally healthy home environments.”

Written by Christine Kearney