Thu-Huong Ha, for Quartz:
Economists from Italy’s University of Padova compared data on 5,820 European men to see if longer compulsory childhood education could increase kids’ earnings over a lifetime. It does: Averaged across nine countries, boys who attended an extra year of school due to changing age requirements eventually returned an additional 9% of income.
But the researchers were surprised to find that, among kids who benefited from an extra year of school, those who grew up with more than 10 non-school books (that is, books they weren’t forced to read) at home eventually doubled that lifetime earning advantage, to 21%. Factors like whether the boys’ fathers had white-collar jobs, and whether their homes had running water, did not seem to make a difference.
Crucially, there was no significant difference between whether participants reported having 50, 100, or 200 books growing up. The key was whether they grew up with any number of books greater than 10.
The 2015 study from Brunello, Weber, and Weiss, published in The Economic Journal, is presently posted for open access.
Thus we find a scrap of evidence supporting something I think we all have known, instinctively at least, is true.
Keep reading. Keep teaching. Keep learning.
Brunello, Giorgio, Guglielmo Weber, and Christph T. Weiss. “Books are Forever: Early Life Conditions, Education and Lifetime Earnings in Europe”. The Economic Journal. 25 April 2016.
Ha, Thu-Huong. “Economists show that boys who grow up around books earn significantly more money as adults”. Quartz. 2 June 2016.
(h/t Science of Us)