Children with top maths skills at the end of primary school will go on to earn considerably more than middle-ability classmates later in life, new research suggests.
The Institute of Fiscal Studies found that good maths skills at the age of 10 could add thousands to an adult’s earning power.
A pupil who scores highly in the subject can expect to receive around £2,100 extra each year by the time they reach 30, it was claimed.
The report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that a decent grasp of maths at the age of 10 could add more than seven per cent to a child’s eventual earning power.
Researchers also found evidence of a wage premium for schoolchildren with good reading skills, although the effect was considerably less marked than for maths.
The disclosure underlines the importance of ensuring that pupils have a good understanding of adding, subtracting and dividing by the time they leave primary school.
It comes after figures showed one-in-six pupils failed to reach the basic standard expected for their age group by the time they started secondary education last year.
The Government has now unveiled a radical overhaul of the primary maths curriculum in an attempt to drive up standards.
Claire Crawford, IFS researcher, who carried out the study, said: “Our research shows that maths skills developed during primary school continue to matter for earnings 20-to-30 years down the line.
“Moreover, they seem to matter more than reading skills, and over and above the qualifications that young people go on to obtain.”
The research looked at the link between the reading and maths score of pupils born in April 1970 at the age of 10 and their earnings at the ages of 30, 34 and 38.
It emerged that a child who scored in the top 15 per cent of maths scores when they were 10 were likely to earn around 7.3 per cent more when they were 30 than a similar child who gained a mid-ranking score.
This is equivalent to around £2,100 extra in annual salaries, the study suggests.
It found that children who are good at reading also had higher salaries later in life, although the effect was smaller.
Ten-year-olds who scored in the top 15 per cent for reading were likely to earn around 1.9 per cent more by the age of 30 – equivalent to an extra £550.
Elizabeth Truss, the Schools Minister, said: “This research clearly shows why mastering the basics in maths at primary school is so important.
“That’s why our draft maths primary school curriculum focuses on raising standards in arithmetic, including efficient calculation methods such as long and short multiplication and division, and fractions.
“The calculation of fractions, volume, and area will be introduced earlier. We are also banning calculators from 11-year-olds’ maths tests.
“Children must able to tackle algebra and statistics by the time they reach secondary school.”