In yet another sign that you really, really screwed up your life when you were a teenager, it turns out the happy popular kids in your high school set themselves up to make more money than you. Yep, all that time you spent moping in goth makeup and black nail polish hurt how much money you’re making today. And now, of course, you’re stuck not being able to make any money even though that also makes you happy, thus making you sad and continuing to depress your income. It’s a vicious cycle.
A study presented to the American Economics Association looked at data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and found that students who answered questions like “You enjoyed life” positively as teens and then later on answered “How satisfied are you with life as whole” positively as adults made more income than their peers. On a five point scale, just a one point difference made a difference of as much as $2,000 between respondents. On the opposite spectrum, people who reported an unhappy adolescence made 30% less than the average person.
Happiness helps generate income, according to the study, because happy adolescents and adults are more likely to get college degrees, jobs and promotions and be less neurotic. Which makes us wonder if the researchers have ever set foot on a college campus or Manhattan. And if your happier friends wave their bigger paychecks in front of your face, just remind of the simple truth that we will all eventually die.