THE GOOD NEWS:
Younger siblings may have more fun, but the oldest kid is probably smarter.
Siblings sometimes fight over which kid was treated more leniently by their parents. The firstborn often complains about being forced to eat sugar-free cereal and having an earlier curfew, while the youngest brags about eating Froot Loops and staying out late.
A new study shows that parents treat their children differently based on birth order, and firstborns get the benefit. Research out of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland found that firstborn children have superior thinking skills to their younger siblings because they receive more mental stimulation from their parents.
The study involved nearly 5,000 children from pre-birth to age 14 and the participants were evaluated every two years. The data reveals that the firstborn children had higher IQs than their younger siblings and the discrepancy became evident as early as age 1.
The researchers also discovered that parents change their parenting behavior with each subsequent child. Younger children are involved in fewer stimulating activities with parents, such as reading, playing a musical instrument, or crafts.
“Our results suggest that broad shifts in parental behavior are a plausible explanation for the observed birth order differences in education and labor market outcomes,” said Ana Nuevo-Chiquero, of Edinburgh University’s School of Economics.
While firstborns may complain that their younger siblings got away with more, now they can brag about getting more attention — and maybe being smarter.