There's a study out there by the National Bureau of Economic Research which should strike fear in the heart of any dweeb patiently waiting for his Count of Monte Cristo moment. The study says those popular kids, like that no-good prom king who may or may not have made your high school life awful, will actually out-earn you because they're so freaking likable.
"We estimate that moving from the 20th to 80th percentile of the high-school popularity distribution yields a 10 percent wage premium nearly 40 years later," reads the abstract to the work of Gabriela Conti (University of Chicago), Gerrit Mueller (Institute of Employment Research), Andrea Gaeotti (University of Essex) and Stephen Pudney (University of Essex). Simply put, being popular pays dividends.
What these economic research nerds looked at was Wisconsin's Longitudinal Study, which surveyed one-third of Wisconsin's high school seniors (around 10,000 people), and the then-called friendship nominations—essentially the scientific version of voting for prom royalty, where you're supposed to name your three closest friends—for patterns 35 years later. And this is what they found:
We find that the number of friendships nominated by a student (which measures in part a desire for popularity) has no effect on adult earnings. In contrast, actual popularity as measured by the number of friendship nominations that the student receives from his school mates has a sizable effect: the wage premium of additional social skills equivalent toa 1-unit increase in the expected number of friendship nominations at high school is 7 percent.
Essentially, these wonks found that being everyone's best friend helps. And it's a factor into what your boss thinks of you, and actually helps when it comes to getting paid. That makes sense, because having a good relationship with your boss and being well-liked by your peers, can't hurt.