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Popularity in high school pays off later in life

by AirTalk

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Students perform dance routines to the song 'Macarena' on the dancefloor at St James' Park on July 1, 2011 in Newcastle, United Kingdom. Photo by Bethany Clarke/Getty Images

Move over Breakfast Club kids, the “in crowd” still rules the world. This, according to new research that finds that popular high school students earn more than their freaks and geeks counterparts decades after graduation. Researchers crunched data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, a survey of over 10,000 men and women who graduated from Wisconsin high school in 1957.

Back in 1957, the students were asked to list three people they considered to be their best friends. Those students, whose names were written down the most, were deemed the most popular. Decades later, the researchers have followed up with them to see what they could learn about the impact of popularity then and now. Turns out, those popular kids were more likely to have come from “warm family environments,” to have been smarter than their peers and to have been somewhat more affluent.

Today, those same people are earning two percent more than their peers. Does this mean that our dearly-held Revenge of the Nerds fantasies are just that – fantasies? Is there anything the rest of us can do to buck this trend?


Sarah Kliff, reporter, Washington Post

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