The Kids That End Up Making More Money As Adults

The excellent psychblog ( reported on a recent study published in the journal Developmental Psychology (Spengler et al., 2015) which has found that children that were labelled as rule breakers grew up to be financially more successful as adults.

The study comprised almost 3,000 children in Luxembourg and assessed a range of variables including their intelligence, socioeconomic status, personal attributes and family background.  Forty years later, 745 of those children were traced to determine their educational and occupational achievements. The researchers were surprised to find that those children that had been judged to be rebellious earned more money than those that had not, and that the only factors that were greater predictors of an adult’s income were higher IQ and higher socioeconomic status.

I wasn’t particularly surprised on reading this. Children that are more rebellious are generally those that are more inquisitive and who question the status quo. In questioning authority as a child they are likely to develop a lifelong habit to be more analytical and able to make better decisions. Standing up to authority when young, will have strengthened their confidence and as a result they are much more likely to push out the boundaries to take more risks and seek more opportunities.

The study’s authors commented  “individuals with higher levels of rule-breaking and defiance of parental authority also have higher levels of willingness to stand up for their own interests and aims, a characteristic that leads to more favourable individual outcomes.”

This is also seems to reinforce the studies around mental toughness and the development of young people which show that children, who are mentally tougher, are more likely to perform better in exams, manage the transition better to higher education and aspire to achieve more. These mental toughness characteristics include amongst other things being more inquisitive as well as having the confidence to embrace new ideas and take risks.

Published by Paul Lyons  – Paul is an experienced chief executive, leadership coach and mental toughness professional and you can reach him via or via his website at

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