Are Today's Artsy Kids Tomorrow's Business Leaders?
Michigan State University researchers looked at the university's Honors College graduates from 1990 to 1995 who majored in science, technology, engineering or mathematics and found that those who owned businesses or patents received up to eight times more exposure to the arts during childhood (until age 14) than people in the general public.
"The most interesting finding was the importance of sustained participation in those activities," Rex LaMore, director of MSU's Center for Community and Economic Development, said in a university news release. "If you started as a young child and continued in your adult years, you're more likely to be an inventor as measured by the number of patents generated, businesses formed or articles published. And that was something we were surprised to discover."
Music training appeared especially important. The researchers found that 93 percent of the graduates in the study reported musical training at some point in their lives, compared with 34 percent of adults in the general population. The graduates also had higher-than-average involvement in the visual arts, acting, dance and creative writing, according to the study recently published in the Economic Development Quarterly.
The researchers also found that those who were exposed to metal work and electronics during childhood were 42 percent more likely to own a patent, while those exposed to photography during childhood were 30 percent more likely to have a patent. Those exposed to architecture during childhood were 87.5 percent more likely to form a company.
An arts and crafts background can stimulate creative thinking that can help solve complex problems, according to the researchers, who said their findings could prove valuable in helping to rebuild the U.S. economy.
"Inventors are more likely to create high-growth, high-paying jobs in our state, and that's the kind of target we think we should be looking for," LaMore said. "So we better think about how we support artistic capacity, as well as science and math activity, so that we have these outcomes."
The Nemours Foundation explains how to introduce toddlers to music.