SALT LAKE CITY — It pays to be a happy teenager, a new study says.
Researchers for the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health say that a person's happiness as a teenager will affect their income levels later on in life.
Teenagers who were happy at age 16 were likely to earn 10 percent above the average income at age 29. In contrast, deeply unhappy teens went on to earn 30 percent below the average 29-year-old.
The researchers conducted the study, published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, using more than 10,000 American teenagers.
Starting at age 16, the teens were administered a questionnaire with a 5-point scale rating their happiness. At ages 18, 22 and 29, they were re-administered the questionnaire and asked to evaluate their happiness at that time.
What they found, was that for every point the 22-year-olds' happiness increased, a $2,000 increase of earnings followed.
Researchers surmise that self-described happy teens benefitted from fewer distractions, as they were less likely to have to cope with negative emotions and neurosis. Further, happy teens were more optimistic, another benefit on their behalf.
Happiness levels were also affected by earning a higher-education degree, being hired and succeeding in their profession.
Previous research has shown that making money can correlate with happiness, but this study shows that happiness and income-level are two-directional: when one is happy, one makes more, and when one makes more money, one is happier.