Here’s What Predicts Your Kids’ Future Success Better Than Wealth or IQ

Students walking together outdoors
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A scientific study is giving parents more reason to nag their kids about doing their homework.

We all know it’s good to get an early start on habits that lead to success. We encourage our kids to do well in elementary school so it snowballs into good grades in high school. We count on high school achievement getting them into great colleges and we hope postsecondary success will translate into developing rewarding, money-making careers.

The American Psychological Association reports a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology confirms that line of thinking. It also tells us behavior in high school is connected to career success decades later,  regardless of factors like parental income or IQ, or personality traits like conscientiousness.

The authors of the study analyzed data collected by the American Institutes for Research over a 50-year period. Teens in 1960 who were responsible students, showed an interest in school and read and wrote well were found to have ended up with more prestigious careers and higher income five decades later.

One of the study’s researchers told the University of Illinois news bureau that the study only points to an association between behavior and future success and not a causal relationship. But while being a responsible student doesn’t automatically guarantee future success, it can give parents hope.

We may not be able to leap income brackets or change our child’s IQ level or personality, but we can encourage our kids to take an interest in their studies, remind them to consistently complete their homework and model responsible behavior.

We can start sooner rather than later in the hope that the good habits stick and make a positive impact.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She enjoys writing about parenting and money.