TODAY, EDUCATION & COGNITIVE PROCESSES

New Research Reveals That Learning To Read At An Early Age Is The Best Predictor Of Future Achievement AND Life Success.

One of the least expected predictors of life success is one's reading ability in primary school. Reading with pleasure, and especially reading fiction, is far more important than we have ever imagined. Finding ways to develop engaged readers is important for every child.

Increasingly, new research across many countries is showing that the best predictor of future education achievement and life success is reading ability.

Timothy Bates and Stuart Ritchie, at Edinburgh University, have proven the connection between reading well and future job success, empirically (you can read a summary of their research paper here).

They analyzed the relationship between early reading skills at seven and later socio-economic life, following more than 17,000 people in England, Scotland and Wales over 50 years from 1958. They showed that reading well at age seven was a key factor in determining whether people went on to get a high-income job.

Reading level at age seven was linked to social class even 35 years on. "Children with higher reading skills ended up having higher incomes, better housing and more professional roles in adulthood," the authors concluded.

We wanted to test whether being better at reading in childhood would be linked with a rise through the social ranks: a better job, better housing, and higher income as an adult" Ritchie & Bates

The researchers explored these relationships using data from the National Child Development Study, a large, nationally representative study that followed over 17,000 people in England, Scotland, and Wales over a span of about 50 years, from when they were born in 1958 to present day.
The data revealed that childhood reading and math skills really do matter.

Ritchie and Bates found that participants’ reading and math ability at age 7 were linked to their social class a full 35 years later. Participants who had higher reading and math skills as children ended up having higher incomes, better housing, and better jobs in adulthood.

The data suggest, for example, that going up one reading level at age 7 was associated with a £5,000, or roughly $7,750, increase in income at age 42.

The long-term associations held even after the researchers took other common factors into account.

“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,” say Ritchie and Bates.

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