When Homer Simpson advised Bart that 'there's nothing more important in life than being popular,' he could have been on to something. Popularity at school could lead to prosperity later in life, according to a new study by researchers at the Institute for Social and Economic Research. They analysed data from a long-term study of people in Wisconsin who were asked, as children, to name their three best friends in their class at school. 35 years later the participants were asked about their earnings. Those children who received the most nominations were more likely to earn more as an adult. Each extra friend nomination was associated with a 2% higher wage and there was a 10% earnings difference between the bottom fifth and the top fifth of the popularity range. Early family environment and the type and size of school played a significant part in shaping friendship networks.
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