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Author's Note: Does elementary school math affect how much money you'll make?
I want to thank Stuart Ritchie at the University of Edinburgh for taking time to answer my questions and clarify his findings. At first, I didn't understand the big deal about his and Timothy Bates' conclusion that early childhood academic achievement pointed to financial success later in life. It seemed pretty obvious, right? If a kid comes from an advantaged background — educated parents, a safe and stimulating home environment — he or she is more likely to do better in school, get into a better college, get a better job and earn a better salary. But Ritchie made it clear that the correlation between first-grade reading and math skills and later success was wholly independent of things like parent education level or even the kid's IQ. The surprising message is you don't have to be born rich or hyper intelligent to achieve a high socioeconomic standing. If you master the basics at an early age, you will be on track to succeed in school and in your career. That gives me hope as a parent, and reason enough to get out those multiplication table flash cards.
- Dubow, Eric; Boxer, Paul; and Huesmann, Rowell. "Long-term Effects of Parents' Education on Children's Educational and Occupational Success: Mediation by Family Interactions, Child Aggression, and Teenage Aspirations." Merrill-Palmer Quarterly. July 2009. (May 16, 2013) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2853053/
- Ganzach, Yoav. "A dynamic analysis of the effects of intelligence and socioeconomic background on job-market success." Intelligence. March-April 2012. (May 16, 2013) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160289611000237
- Lin, Qiuyun. "Parent Involvement and Early Literacy." Harvard Family Research Project. Oct. 2003. (May 16, 2013) http://www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/browse-our-publications/parent-involvement-and-early-literacy
- Mikulak, Anna. "Early Math and Reading Ability Linked to Job and Income in Adulthood." Association for Psychological Science. May 8, 2013. (May 16, 2013) http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/early-math-and-reading-ability-linked-to-job-and-income-in-adulthood.html
- Ritchie, Stuart., PhD. candidate, Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, e-mail interview (May 14, 2013).
- Ritchie, Stuart J. and Bates, Timothy C. "Enduring Links from Childhood Mathematics and Reading Achievement to Adult Socioeconomic Success." Psychological Science. May 2013. (May 16, 2013) http://pss.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/05/02/0956797612466268