Here’s another reason to envy the most popular kids in high school: They earn more money, according to a study that concluded a teen’s popularity in high school is directly related to a higher income later in life.

The National Bureau of Economic Research developed a “model of friendship” from a 1957 study of Wisconsin high school students. By noting the number of friendships in high school and following up with the students at the age when most were nearing retirement, they translated high school popularity into economic success. The most popular students in high school (those measuring in the 80th percentile according to the study) earned 10 percent more than their counterparts nearly 40 years later.

In the age of Facebook and Twitter, you may think you have a lot of “friends,” but really it’s the power to personally leverage networks and interact socially with colleagues and higher-ups that improve your net worth, the study concludes.

By the time the student reaches adulthood, he or she “needs to have acquired and developed the appropriate social skills: understand the ‘rules of the game’ — how to gain acceptance and social support from colleagues, whom to trust and when to reciprocate,” the study’s authors write.

But if you’re not born with the congeniality gene, the study goes on to infer that sociability can be learned. Popularity, it notes, is measured as “the stock of social skills of a particular individual, rather than a measure of an innate personality trait. It is the productive skill itself that is rewarded in the labor market, rather than friendships per se.”

So to those who were voted “most popular” in high school, take advantage of the natural talents that can bring you economic success.

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