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Kids' Reading, Math Skills Tied to Future Success

Better performance at age 7 linked to better incomes, jobs and housing in adulthood, U.K. study says

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MONDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- A person's math and reading abilities in early childhood influence how successful they are as adults, a new study contends.

Researchers examined data from more than 17,000 people in England, Scotland and Wales who are part of a long-running study on child development and have been followed since they were born in 1958.

People who had higher reading and math skills at age 7 had higher incomes, better housing and better jobs at age 42. For example, reading ability one level higher as a child was associated with about $7,750 more annual income as an adult.

The link between math and reading ability as a child and success as an adult was independent of intelligence, education and socioeconomic status in childhood, according to the study, which appeared online recently in the journal Psychological Science.

"These findings imply that basic childhood skills -- independent of how smart you are, how long you stay in school or the social class you started off in -- will be important throughout your life," wrote study authors Stuart Ritchie and Timothy Bates, psychological scientists at the University of Edinburgh.

They added that genes may play a role in the findings.

"Genes underlie many of the differences among children on all the variables we've looked at here," they said. "The genetically controlled study using twins that we're conducting now should allow us to separate out genetic and environmental effects."

While the study found an apparent link between early learning mastery and success later in life, it did not prove that a connection exists.

More information

The Nemours Foundation explains how parents can help children who are reluctant readers.

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