The Research Is In! The Oldest Child In The Family Has This One Major Advantage

12 March 2018

Surprising benefits of being the firstborn. 

It’s common to hear your firstborn complain about the numerous disadvantages of being the first child in the family – from being blamed for their other siblings’ mistakes to having to take care of the younger ones constantly, they often moan that the burden of being the oldest is heavy. One of the many arguments that you might have heard coming from your children is the age-old debate of who’s the smartest one amongst the children in the family. After all, it’s natural to get a little competitive no matter where each child stands in the equation.


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If you have a firstborn, they’ll probably be delighted to know (or to confirm your suspicions) that according to research by the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, the oldest child usually has a mental edge over their siblings.

The researchers worked with a team from the University of Sydney to examine data collected from 5,000 children who were given reading and picture vocabulary tests every two years. They found that firstborns score higher than their siblings in IQ tests as early as age one.

According to the study, which was published in the Journal of Human Resources, this is because the parents changed their behaviour as subsequent children were born. They offered less mental stimulation to the younger children and also took part in fewer activities with them, such as reading, crafts and music.

Plus, the mothers took higher risks during the pregnancy of latter-born children, such as smoking more regularly.

Although all children received the same levels of emotional support, the first borns received more support with tasks and developed more superior thinking skills.

“Our results suggest that broad shifts in parental behaviour are a plausible explanation for the observed birth order differences in education and labour market outcomes,” said Dr Ana Nuevo-Chiquero, who is from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Economics.

Basically, the result could also help explain why children born earlier seem to more education and higher wages later on in life.

However, as noted by The Independent, experts have warned that the results are generalised and may or may not translate to individual families. So if you have always tried their best to give every child an equal amount of attention, this finding may not apply to you in any way.


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