From the BBC:
People who were good at maths as young children go on to earn more than other similar children by the time they are 30, a study has found.
How well children do at school and early reading skills are already widely known to be linked to higher earnings. But researchers claim there is an especially strong link between early maths skills and future pay. They found children who were good at maths at 10 went on to earn 7% more at 30 than an "otherwise identical" child...
The study's authors said they did not know why this was the case, but suggested employers seemed to value maths skills and were willing to reward them with higher wages.
There are two effects at work here:
1. Some jobs actually require you to be good at maths and these jobs might well be paid slightly better than other jobs. That's the whole point at being good at stuff and the easy part of the explanation.
2. Probably far more important is that being good at maths - i.e. vaguely aware of what numbers mean - means you are more sensitive to how well-paid a job/career choice is, for example.
a) If you are good at maths you are more likely to spot that one job pays better than another job and to choose the higher paying one. You are more able to forecast which job will end up earning you more in future. You can make the optimum trade-off between taking low-paid training now and getting a better-paid job later on.
b) Some jobs pay "danger money" (cleaning windows on high buildings, erecting scaffolding, North Sea diving etc) and people who are good at maths might spot that the risks are vastly over-stated and the "danger money" is well worth accepting (or not, as the case may be).
c) Other jobs (footballer, actor, musician) pay superstar salaries to a tiny minority but most footballers, actors and musicians earn very little if anything. So somebody who is good at maths would probably not choose to "chase his dreams" because he knows that the 99% likelihood is that they will earn up earning bugger all from it.
So a lot of people who were good at maths as children will end up in better-paying jobs where they are not actually using very much maths on a daily basis (ruling out effect #1), but it is their maths skills which helped them choose those better-paying jobs in the first place.
Friday, 8 March 2013
From the BBC:
My latest blogpost: Missing the blindingly obvious...Tweet this! Posted by Mark Wadsworth at 14:27