Study Says that First-Born Children Are Smarter Than Their Younger Siblings
If you’re the first born in your household, get ready for some massive gloating rights. Nope, it’s not that you could drive first or have the first say in wardrobe (though those are certainly perks as well). It’s that new research has found that the eldest child in the family is typically also the one with the most brains. That’s right, you may be smarter than your younger sibling!
The study, published in the Journal of Human Resources, found that first-born children are more likely to develop higher-level thinking skills in their lives when compared tot their younger siblings, and even get higher IQ test scores, as early as—get ready for it—age one!
So what’s the advantage that the older kid has? It might have something to do with the different amounts of mental stimulation Mom and Dad have with their first-borns as they do with their second, third, and so on.
“Researchers found that parents changed their [behavior] as subsequent children were born,” the study reported. It turns out that parents were less likely to engage in mentally stimulating activities with younger siblings, such as reading together, doing crafts and playing musical instruments, as they were with their first. Additionally, mothers even tended to take more risks during their second, third and so on pregnancies, such as smoking, which could affect thinking skills of the child.
The study also found that when it came to their first born child, parents were more apt to give their elder child support with certain tasks that may have given them an upper hand with developing certain thinking skills that contribute to higher IQs. “Although all children received the same levels of emotional support, first-born children received more support with tasks that developed thinking skills,” the study found.
The study followed about 5,000 children who were monitored from before they were even born up until they were 14 years old. The kids were assessed every two years in reading, vocabulary and various other categories.
“Our results suggests that broad shifts in parental behavior are a plausible explanation for the observed birth order differences in education and labor market outcomes,” Ana Nuevo-Chiquero, of the University of Edinburgh School of Economics, said in a statement.
The first born being the smartest isn’t a terribly new phenomenon—in the late 1800s British Psychologist Francis Galton theorized that parents were more likely to treat their first born as a companion, which may also explain their higher IQs.
It’s sort of like the stereotype goes—with your first baby, you freak out when they sneeze, and your second baby, you’re letting them eat sand strand from the sandbox. It may not be intentional, but after experiencing the realities of one child, it’s only natural to be a bit more lax with your second—but that doesn’t mean it isn’t affecting the latter children mentally.
Are you a first-born child? Did you know that birth order could affect your intelligence? What are your thoughts on the result of this study?