Economists show that boys who grow up around books earn significantly more money as adults.

Economists at the University of Padua in Italy have announced the findings of a pan-European study incorporating data and feedback from 5,820 subjects which looked at how a range of factors affected lifetime earnings for men.

Their results show that lifetime earning average rose by 21% for those boys that grew up with more than 10 non-school books at home.

The importance of books

The impact of having access to more than ten books outside their school curriculum was the most decisive factor that impacted lifetime earning averages for survey participants. 

The other factor to have a significant positive impact – an extra year of compulsory education – was shown to increase average lifetime earnings by 9%.

Other factors, such as whether the men grew up in urban or rural environments, the father’s profession, and poverty indicators such as whether the home had running water, did not impact average lifetime earnings for the subjects of the study.

Interestingly, 10 books seemed to be the tipping point.  The study found little difference in lifetime earning averages between those who grew up with 50, 100 or 200 books.

Is book ownership an indicator of future financial success?

The idea that book ownership could be an indicator of future financial success can also be seen anecdotally elsewhere – billionaire Elon Musk says he was “raised by books”.

One of the researchers at University of Padua who conducted the study, Guglielmo Webercommented:

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. Or it could be because homes with books capture families with stronger cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.”

The findings make the work of charities laboring to get books into the hands of those children that don’t easily have access to them take on even greater importance. 

Read the story of one such charity, Books for Africahere.