Children’s behaviour in kindergarten linked to earnings in adulthood

Washington: Individuals who were inattentive at the age of six had lower earnings in their 30s after taking into consideration their IQ and family adversity, finds a recent study.

Also, males who were physically aggressive or oppositional (e.g., who refused to share materials or blamed others) had lower annual earnings in their 30s and males who were prosocial (e.g., who shared or helped) had higher earnings later.

The study published in the journal ‘JAMA Psychiatry ‘ examined the association between six prevalent childhood behaviours in kindergarten and annual earnings at ages 33 to 35 years.

“Our study suggests that kindergarten teachers can identify behaviours associated with lower earnings three decades later,” said Daniel Nagin, co-author of the study.

“Early monitoring and support for children who exhibit high levels of inattention, and for boys who exhibit high levels of aggression and opposition and low levels of prosocial behaviour could have long-term socioeconomic advantages for those individuals and society,” said Nagin.

The study used data from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Kindergarten Children, a population-based sample of predominantly White boys and girls born in 1980 or 1981 in Quebec, Canada, who were followed from January 1, 1985, to December 31, 2015.

In sum, 2,850 children were assessed. The data included behavioural ratings by kindergarten teachers when the children were five or six years old, as well when the participants were 33 to 35 years old.

The study sought to test the associations between inattention (e.g., lacking concentration, being easily distracted), hyperactivity (e.g., feeling fidgety, moving constantly), physical aggression (e.g., fighting, bullying, kicking), opposition (e.g., disobeying, blaming others, being irritable), anxiety (e.g., worrying about many things, crying easily), and prosociality (e.g., helping someone who has been hurt, showing sympathy) when the children were in kindergarten and later reported annual earnings.

Researchers found that boys and girls who were inattentive in kindergarten had lower earnings in their 30s. They also found that boys who were aggressive or oppositional at age 6 had lower earnings, and that boys who were prosocial at age 6 had higher earnings in their 30s.

“Early behaviours are modifiable, arguably more so than traditional factors associated with earnings, such as IQ and socioeconomic status, making them key targets for early intervention,” explained Sylvana M. Cote, another co-author the study.

“If early behavioural problems are associated with lower earnings, addressing these behaviours is essential to helping children–through screenings and the development of intervention programs–as early as possible,” said M. Cote.


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