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Is Your First Born Smarter Than The Siblings

Is Your First Born Smarter Than The Siblings?

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  • There is increased mental stimulation for first born children
  • First born children were found to have better paying jobs with better education
  • Mothers were a lot more cautious when they were pregnant for the first time, and were more prone to carry out higher risk tasks during their subsequent pregnancies.

Economists conducted a study to find out if the first born children had better intelligence quotient (IQ) than their younger siblings. The study found that first-born children were indeed smarter than their younger brothers or sisters, ending an age old debate on which of the siblings had a better IQ.

The reason behind this 'improved' IQ could be due to better mental stimulation by the mother or the father during growth and when the child is in the developmental stage.


The study that involved 5000 children was published in the Journal of Human Resources and was meant to throw more light on the birth order effect, a situation in which older siblings had better pay and education during the later stages of life. The study was carried out by scientists from the University of Sydney and it dealt with data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (US).

Details of the Study

The study involved data from over 5000 children who were studied from when their mothers were pregnant with them till they were 14 years old. The details that were collected involved
  • The background of the children along with the economic conditions of their parents.
  • Once in two years, reading skills and picture vocabulary were determined.
  • Tests on memory/recognition like matching, name recognition and calling out single words were conducted.
  • Statistical methods were employed to determine how smoking and drinking affected the child during pregnancy.

First Born and Quality Parental Time

The studies showed that mothers tended to be a lot more carful during their first pregnancy and took 'higher risks' during their subsequent pregnancies. Parents also spent more quality time with their first born child, reading to them and offering better mental stimulation. The current study showed that the advantages enjoyed by the first born begin soon after birth till about 3 years of age.

An additional child brings with it further responsibilities and chores and parents may not be able to spend as much quality time with their child, when compared to the time spent with a first born.

Dr. Ana Nuevo-Chiquero, from the School of Economics at the University of Edinburgh said that there were considerable shifts in the parenting behavior between the first born and subsequent children which could be contributing to the differences in the quality of education and jobs.

First Born Children - First Born Syndrome

Parents agonize over every aspect of bringing up a first born child, from the books that could be read to the right food choices that will help raise a healthy child. There is a lot of attention to detail with careful choices.

This could be due to the parents having more time to spend with their first born child than with the second born. The second child is also referred to as the 'neglected second child' as the parental time is split between the first born and the second.

The additional support provided by the parents helps raise a stronger and smarter child, having little to do with child's ability. As responsibilities increase, with parents taking on additional roles, the birth of a second child, though equally beautiful, might not garner as much attention from a parent like that of a first born child.

Parent Time Split

Every child may receive the same amount of love from the parents but the time that the parent spends with the child may be split. The additional time, which in most instances lasts for 3 years before the next child is born, lays a strong foundation for a better life ahead.

Birth Order and Intelligence

In a similar study conducted by Julia M. Rohrer and colleagues and published in the Journal PNOS, first born children were found to be more intelligent than subsequent children. The study also analyzed the ability of birth order on language acquisition, but found no relevance. Second born may have a slower start to speech, as the first borns do 'all the talking'.

These studies highlight the need for parents to spend sufficient amount of time with their children, inculcating values and the right practices like reading at an early stage. Parents who find it hard to provide the necessary time with their second born should utilize family support systems to complete chores and to ensure quality time with their children. This will help develop a more intelligent child.

References :
  1. Study: Are First-Born Children Smarter Than Their Siblings? - (https://www.studyfinds.org/study-finds-first-born-siblings-intelligence/)
  2. Think you're smarter than your siblings? If you're a firstborn child, you might be right - (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/04/firstborn-children-smarter-than-siblings-edinburgh-study/)
  3. The Effect of Birth Order on Emerging Language - (http://www.hanen.org/SiteAssets/Helpful-Info/Articles/the-effect-of-birth-order.aspx)
  4. Examining the effects of birth order on personality - (http://www.pnas.org/content/112/46/14224)

Source: Medindia

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