Can Books Help You Make More Money?

by Emma Oulton

We know reading makes you more empathetic, and that books can make you smarter — but a new study suggests that books might help you make more money, too. Not that I needed any more reasons to read, of course, but that certainly provides some extra motivation.

The study was carried out by the University of Padova in Italy, and looks at data from 5,820 European men currently aged between 60 and 96. The initial aim was to see if an extra year of compulsory schooling would increase children's earnings over a lifetime (spoiler: it does) — but something else interesting came to the surface as well. Amongst the men who had spent an extra year at school (and whose lifetime earnings had been, on average, 9% higher than those who hadn't), the boys who had grown up with books in the house were shown to have earned even more.

Specifically, it was the boys who had more than 10 non-school books in their home growing up who benefitted — with a whopping lifetime earning advantage of 21% over those who had fewer books and fewer school years. Other factors, like whether their fathers had white-collar jobs or even whether their homes had running water, didn't seem to make a difference.

An interesting side-note for anyone worrying their bookshelf was too small: there was no significant difference between those who had 50, 100 or 200 books growing up. The only factor that seemed to matter was having more than 10. This just goes to show why it's so important to donate your old books to libraries or secondhand stores — so that children who may not grow up in homes with a ton of resources can still have access to the fantastic privilege of books that so many of us take for granted.

The researcher pointed out that this study doesn't necessarily mean that having books caused the men to earn more. It might be that "homes with books capture families with stronger cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds," he conceded. On the other hand, it might be that "children who grew up in homes with books may have more chances to learn about life and the universe, and to have new experiences through books." I'm going to say it's that one.

Images: jutheanh, MorningbirdPhoto/Pixabay