The Success Sequence


There is a natural sequence in life that will help work toward your success. It is summed up with four words: School, Job, Marriage, and Children (in that order). In other words, if you finish your schooling (or at least high school), then secure a job, then get married, and then have children, your probability of economic success is high. But if you live “out of sequence” in any way (i.e. having children before marriage) financial hardship will be more likely.

I have observed this for many years. I have seen many of those who have lived their lives “out of sequence,” struggle greatly financially. Life is hard as a single mother. Life is hard when you return to school with a family. Life is hard when your education level limits your employment opportunities. Furthermore, such a sequence is fully consistent with biblical teaching.

While I have known this for many years, I have recently heard of some studies that have confirmed this through research. For instance, in a recent report by the American Enterprise Institute ( and the Institute for Family Studies (, Wendy Wang and W. Bradford Wilcox summarize their findings:

Finally, 97% of Millennials who follow what has been called the “success sequence”—that is, who get at least a high school degree, work, and then marry before having any children, in that order—are not poor by the time they reach their prime young adult years (ages 28-34). … In contrast, 53% of young adults who did not follow this sequence at all are in poverty” (

Opponents of these studies have rightly pointed out that the above study has demonstrated correlation, rather than causation. In other words, just because the vast majority of those who followed this sequence escape poverty, it doesn’t follow that this sequence caused the economic prosperity. They are quick to point out that there are other factors at work, such as family support and economic status of parents, which make it is easier for young people to follow this sequence. It may be, they argue, that the other factors are stronger correlations to financial success.

Whatever the cause, it would be foolish to ignore the correlation. So I encourage you to teach your children these four words: School, Job, Marriage and Children. Ingrain the success sequence into their hearts. If they follow your counsel, they will be on the path to prosperity.


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