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What The Number Of Books In Your House Has To Do With Your Kid’s Future Income

Flickr / Thomas Hawk

If you’ve ever felt like a pushover for letting your kid stay up late for a bonus bedtime story, or just guilty about not being able to part with the excessive literary clutter in your home, rest assured that your bookwormy ways may be to your family’s benefit. A new study finds that the actual amount of books in your home could translate into cash in their pockets, which is a happy ending most parents can get behind.

Looking at 6,000 European men born between 1920 and 1956, researchers broke subjects into two groups — those who had very few books at the age 10 (10 or less) and those who had a shelf or more at home at age 10 (anywhere from 11 to 200 books). Although the study found that an extra year of education led to a 9 percent increase in earnings on average in adulthood, this figure differed significantly depending on which group they fell into. Despite the same amount of education, men who grew up with very few books only experienced a 5 percent wage increase, versus a 21 percent spike for men who grew up with a shelf or more. With a 16 percent wage gap, it’s a shame you can’t send them to live in the public library — although, the guys who live in the public library don’t exactly look like aristocrats.


Economists suspect that this difference in earning potential is because books encourage academic performance early on, in addition to the fact that owning an abundance of them suggests a higher socioeconomic standing right out of the gate.

Unfortunately the data did not look at what this means for daughters, whose salaries are already cause for concern (because history was ignorant like that). But considering the low cost combined with the high return, buying more books should be a no-brainer regardless of gender. Getting your kid to read them on the other hand, might be the real challenge.

[H/T] The Guardian