Could a family's social standing be the key to happiness for teens?

accreditation
Social status may have a lot to do with kids' happiness.
Social status may have a lot to do with kids' happiness.

How teens see their family's social status may play a part in their mental health and success at school, a new study suggests.

Social status appears to be more important than what their parents do for a living, how much money they have or how educated they are, the researchers said.

Hierarchical system

"The amount of financial resources children have access to is one of the most reliable predictors of their health and life chances," said Candice Odgers, a professor of psychological science at the University of California, Irvine.

"But these findings show that how young people see their family's place in a hierarchical system also matters. Their perceptions of social status were an equally good, and often stronger, indicator of how well they were going to do with respect to mental health and social outcomes," Odgers explained in a university news release.

For the study, the researchers followed more than 2 200 twins born in England and Wales in 1994 and 1995.

The children assessed their family's social ranking at ages 12 and 18. By late adolescence, these beliefs were linked to how well the teen was doing, independent of the family's income, health care, adequate nutrition and education. This pattern was not seen at age 12.

Creative solutions needed

The researchers also found that the twins' views were not always the same. At 18, the twin who said the family's standing was higher was less likely to be convicted of a crime, and more often better educated and employed or in training. That twin also had fewer mental health problems than his or her sibling, the findings showed.

These findings need to be taken with a grain of salt, the study authors noted, because other factors can influence how children see their family.

"Targeting adolescents' views of where they stand in society alone will never fully combat larger inequalities," Odgers said. "But as the gap between the rich and the rest grows, creative solutions focusing on both societal and individual factors are needed to help young people to overcome unprecedented obstacles to social mobility and move their way up the social ladder."

The report was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Image credit: unsplash.com

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Authorities should bring in the army already
11% - 2144 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
49% - 9857 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
36% - 7288 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
4% - 733 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
16.43
-0.3%
Rand - Pound
19.87
-0.2%
Rand - Euro
16.69
-0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.48
+0.4%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+0.2%
Gold
1,775.19
-0.0%
Silver
20.07
-0.3%
Palladium
2,154.00
-0.3%
Platinum
934.00
-0.4%
Brent Crude
92.34
-3.0%
Top 40
64,502
-0.4%
All Share
71,364
-0.2%
Resource 10
64,031
-2.1%
Industrial 25
87,385
+0.4%
Financial 15
16,333
+0.6%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE