Understanding the determinants of socioeconomic status (SES) is an important economic and social goal. Several major influences on SES are known, yet much of the variance in SES remains unexplained. In a large, population-representative sample from the United Kingdom, we tested the effects of mathematics and reading achievement at age 7 on attained SES by age 42. Mathematics and reading ability both had substantial positive associations with adult SES, above and beyond the effects of SES at birth, and with other important factors, such as intelligence. Achievement in mathematics and reading was also significantly associated with intelligence scores, academic motivation, and duration of education. These findings suggest effects of improved early mathematics and reading on SES attainment across the life span.
Keywords: academic achievement; cognitive ability; mathematics achievement; reading; school.