Ever heard that the more unpopular people were in high school, the more likely they are to be successful when they grow up? Turns out, that might not be the whole story.
According to a study uncovered on Steven Levitt’s Freakonomics blog, being popular in high school may actually have more of an impact on how successful in business a person is than anything else.
The traditional thought was that unpopular students — a.k.a. “nerds” — spent so much of their time studying instead of socializing that they’d be more than prepared for the business world. But Levitt’s research shows that each close friend a person had in high school is associated with 2% higher earnings later in life. So, the more close friends a person has, the more likely they are to have a higher salary.
Of course, this could happen for two reasons:
- The same factors that made a person popular or sociable in high school had the same effect in a job setting, or
- High school friends can usually do favors later on that’ll help someone obtain a higher-paying job.
One caveat to the old study: Because its data was pulled from decades ago, the same rules might not apply. What strings a high school friend could pull 10 or 20 years ago might be very different from what they can do now.