What really makes successful adults?

| Brighten Youth Education Centre 24 Oct 2017

Last week we explored new - if somewhat questionable research - by HSBC into the correlation between parental aspirations and financial outlay on education. The relationship between childhood environments and adult success is complex.

This week, we review recent academic research into some of the factors that might give your child the best start in life. A 2015 study from Pennsylvania State University and Duke University found a strong correlation between social skills demonstrated in kindergarten, and the jobs or university places.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health (ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/ 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302630), followed the development of more than 700 children in the United States between kindergarten and the age of 25.

It found that children who were socially competent, could cooperate with their peers without prompting, demonstrate empathy, be helpful to others and resolve problems on their own, were more likely to have earned a college degree and full-time employment by the age of 25 than those with limited social skills.

There is also increasing evidence that indicates children whose mothers work outside the home are more likely to be successful adults.

Harvard Business School surveyed 50,000 adults in 25 developed countries and found that daughters of working mothers completed more years of education, were more likely to be employed in supervisory roles and earned higher salaries (23 percent more than daughters of stay-at-home mums).

Having a working mother didn't seem to impact upon male career paths, and researchers postulated that this was because men were expected to work.

However, these young men did spend more than seven hours a week more, on average, on childcare and 25 minutes a week more on housework - indicating the importance of role- modelling in the home.

These findings corroborate those of a 2010 meta-data analysis of 69 studies published over the last 50 years. In addition to showing that the children of working mothers showed no increase in major learning, behavioral or social problems, the study also found that the children of working mothers were more likely to be high achievers in school and experience less depression and anxiety.

The study, published in the American Psychological Association's Psychological Bulletin (www.apa.org/ pubs/journals/releases/bul-136-6- 915.pdf), found that positive impacts were particularly noteworthy in low- income or single-parent families.

A 2014 study from the University of Michigan also found that if your mother finished college, you are more likely to do likewise. The study of over 14,000 children who entered kindergarten between 1998 and 2007, found that children born to teen moms were less likely to finish high school or go to college than their counterparts (onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/ 10.1111/jora.12182/abstract).

If you have any questions about our column, or the issues raised within it, please e-mail them to us: enquiry@englishlearning.edu.hk or contact Brighten Youth Education Centre

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