Study: Math Skills at Age 7 Predict How Much Money You'll Make

Lindsay Abrams, May 13, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This is worth mentioning because it shows how easy it is to misread stuff like this. In a nutshell: in a large study researchers measured a variety of factors at age 7, and then the same subjects' earnings at age 42, and determined that (among other things) even if you compensate for other factors (such as socio-economic status) there is a correlation between a person's math skills at age 7 and income at age 42. So naturally, we are intended to read this as showing how important it is to tecah math at an early age (as it undoubtedly is). But as the article suggests, "these findings also point to a role played by children's innate ability to learn." That is, learning math and earning money are both improved by underlying abilities, such that, if we see them learning math at age 7, we can predict they have the ability to earn more at 42. But do we have innate math skills? I doubt it - but I have no doubt that childhood nutrition, parents' smoking and alcohol use, and various other factors all have an influence on both math skills at age 7 and earnings at age 42. Via Joanne Jacobs.

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