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Children surrounded by books will earn more, says study

Children surrounded by books will earn more, says study

Children who grow up surrounded by lots of books tend to be high earners, according to research from economists Giorgio Brunello, Guglielmo Weber and Christoph Weiss.

The research surveyed 6,000 men who were born in European countries during the mid-20th century and looked at how many books they had in their home.


The research also looked at how books combined with education can affect earnings, and studied individuals who lived in rural or urban areas during their childhood, as well as those who had lots of or very few books at the age of ten.

The study found that the average lifetime earnings of those who grew up surrounded by lots of books and received an extra year of schooling increased by 21 per cent, whilst for those who had fewer books and the same amount of schooling, the increase was just 5 per cent.

According to the research: “Whereas individuals in rural areas were most affected by [school] reforms [over the period studied], those with many books enjoyed substantially higher returns to their additional education.”


The study also found that those who had access to more books were more likely to move to cities that offered high-earning opportunities than those who grew up surrounded by fewer books.

According to the researchers, books matter because they encourage children to read more, which can have “positive effects” on their performance at school.

“Alternatively, a home filled with books indicates advantageous socio-economic conditions,” they added. 

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