A study by Essex University published last year shows that for each extra friend a pupil had at school, their salary 35 years later was 2% higher.
The research adds to growing evidence that social skills – and not simply how well you did at school or university – are vital to success later on in life.
Professor Steve Pudney, of the Institute for Social and Economic Research, who carried out the research, said; “A workplace is a social setting. People have to manage each other and work in teams – you can see why social skills would be helpful”.
He used data from America in which groups of schoolboys were asked to name their three closest friends. The number of nominations received by each pupil was added up. The boys were then interviewed at regular intervals for almost 50 years to measure their earnings and see how they related to the number of friends people had.
Other factors such as intelligence and family income were also taken into account and Pudney accepts that intelligence and length of education have more impact on earning power than social skills (and don’t forget height is important too).
Previous research has shown that each extra year of education later raises earnings by 5%. And other research on the effects on children of poverty and abuse, family income and education, shows how long-term health is influenced by childhood experiences.