Teens with this skin condition earn higher grades and salaries later in life

Among other things, the data yielded a “strongly positive” association with having this skin condition and overall grade point average.

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A recent study pulled data from The National Longitude Study of Adolescent To Adult Health, to look for a correlation between suffering from acne in middle school and high school and subsequential educational and labor outcomes.

Among other things, the data yielded a “strongly positive” association with having acne and overall grade point average in high school; specifically in the areas of English, history, math, and science.  The study’s authors write, “We also find evidence that acne is associated with higher personal labor market earnings for women. We further explore a possible channel through which acne may affect education and earnings.”


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The data used in the recent study was comprised of a nationally representative sample of thousands of American junior high and high school students between the 1994-95 school year. The participants were queried about their well-being and then followed up with into their 20s and 30s.

Does acne equal higher grades and salaries?

The paper was authored by Hugo M. Mialon, Department of Economics at Emory University and Erik Nesson, Associate professor of economics at Ball State University. The two experts were both intrigued with the impact one’s physical appearance has on their fiscal success, even though neither has dealt with serious acne during their schooling.

Eighty-five percent of people between the ages of 12 and 24 come into paths with acne in one form or another and it is the most common skin disorder in America, with roughly 50 million reported cases in the US per year.

Acne might be the closest thing you’ll get to an objective measure of an undesired feature because the skin condition is so well defined. The researchers deemed it was perfectly suited to enact their investigation.   “We were surprised at how persistent the relationship between acne and grades was,” Nesson told Today.

Every correlation observed, proved more substantial in female cases, for whatever reason. In fact, the fiscal outcomes applied exclusively to female participants. Adolescents that suffered from acne, not only excelled academically in middle school and high school, they were also found to be 3.8 percentage points more likely to complete their bachelor’s degrees.

The study’s long-term data showed that young girls that experienced the skin condition typically went on to earn more than young girls that did not. The researchers posit that because teens with acne were more prone to social isolation. They, in turn, prioritized things in their control like academics. Because independent research has shown that acne has a much bigger psychological impact on women, it stands to reason that the positive accusations were stronger in this group.

Even still there were other predictors at play.  For instance, while it was true young women with acne tended to go on to become high earners, this was mostly true for young girls that experienced occasional zits as opposed to adolescents with severe skin problems.

Ultimately, the authors behind the new study hope to add some dimension to an affliction that has predominantly served to reinforce depression and self-loathing in many young adults and teens. Nesson explains: “Since having acne is also strongly associated with depression and suicidal (thoughts) among teenagers, widespread knowledge of long-term benefits associated with having had acne has the potential to reduce teen suicides.”


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CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.