Birth order lends itself to all kinds of stereotypes: the youngest is the “baby” of the family, while the middle child is generally thought to be neglected or ignored. And the oldest is the wisest — right? According to a recent study, that last stereotype might actually be the truth.
New research has found that firstborn children are set up for more academic and intellectual success. Apparently the advantage begins startlingly early — with firstborn babies and toddlers already scoring better on cognitive tests than their younger siblings at the same age — and it’s likely due to “a broad shift in parenting,” according to the study published in the Journal of Human Resources.
The findings are based on the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of the Youth, which included information on thousands of Americans 14-21 years old, who were first interviewed in 1979 and regularly re-interviewed since then. The data provided information on employment, income, education and other background information. Some of the participants’ children were regularly interviewed, revealing birth outcomes, early childhood health, test scores, home environment and other details.
“We were surprised by the finding that birth order differences in cognitive test scores and parental behavior appeared so early,” co-author Jee-Yeon K. Lehmann, an economist at the Analysis Group in Boston, told TODAY.