Improving Social Emotional Skills in Childhood Enhances Long-Term Well-Being and Economic Outcomes

Children playing on a field, getting ready to run.

Investing in effective social emotional programs for all children can increase the number of productive, well-adjusted adults and yield tremendous economic benefits in the future.

The Issue

The benefits of investing in social emotional health are increasingly evident. Studies show that good social emotional skills can lead to better education, employment, and physical and mental health, and to fewer problems with substance abuse, antisocial behavior, or relationships.

Key Findings

  • Each dollar invested in social emotional skill-building programs can return over $11 in benefits.

  • Social emotional skills help children successfully navigate the learning environment, making it more likely they will graduate from both high school and college.

  • With a higher education, people are more likely to get jobs, and jobs with higher salaries, benefiting individuals and society.

  • Good social emotional skills help people lead healthy lives and avoid risky behavior that could contribute to physical and mental health problems, substance abuse, delinquency, and crime.

Conclusion

There is growing recognition of the economic implications of social emotional skills, in terms of both generating economic benefits and preventing costly outcomes for individuals and society. Increased investment in such programming has the potential to generate an economic benefit for individuals and society, and have a positive impact for population health overall.

About the Pennsylvania State University and this Research Series

Founded in 1855, the Pennsylvania State University is a renowned public research university that educates students from around the world and collaborates with partners to share valuable knowledge that improves the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Pennsylvania State University is creating a series of briefs addressing the need for research, practice and policy on social and emotional learning. The series will cover how teachers, parents, schools and others can help support the social emotional learning of students.