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12th Oct 2015

Naughty Children Make More Money As Adults (Says New Study)

Trine Jensen-Burke

Do you have children who more or less live on the naughty step? You’ll be happy to know there is a silver lining to all your worries. According to a recently published study, there is a link between behaviour and future salary – so the naughtier your children are now, the higher their future income will be.

The study, published in Developmental Psychology, have followed  745 children in Luxembourg from the time they were 12 years old until they reached their early 50s. And now the results are in. People who defied authority as kids tended to have higher incomes as grownups.

This means that when your little darling is making you pull your hair out with anger now, at least you can look forward to some pretty decent sorry-I-was-such-a-brat pressies when he reaches adulthood sometime in the future.

The study, conducted as a joint project by University of Luxembourg, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and The Free University of Berlin, used information taken from the children, their parents and their teachers. Although there were several other measurements involved in the study, including socio-economic background, what stood out the most was that ““rule-breaking and defiance of parental authority” was the best predictor of which students ended up making the most money.


The findings surprised researchers, and some of them have a few interesting theories about why this might be.

“Students who scored high on this scale might earn a higher income because they are more willing to be more demanding during critical junctures such as when negotiating salaries or raises,” their report explains.

The research also suggest that troublemakers, “have higher levels of willingness to stand up for their own interests and aims, a characteristic that leads to more favourable individual outcomes—in our case, income.”

While the researchers point out that there are naturally a few limitations to the study, the results can be seen as positive, especially for parents with terrible threenagers, naughty preschoolers and terribly behaved teens.

At least now you can take comfort in the knowledge that your little troublemaker might end up as the next Mark Zuckerberg. Here’s hoping!