First born children are ‘smarter than siblings’

family law

First born children have a slight intellectual edge over their siblings, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Sydney believe that this can be explained by the way parents treat their children differently. Although children are given the same level of emotional support regardless of their birth order, those born first receive more parental encouragement with tasks which require them to think.

The study was based on an analysis of around 5,000 children from the United States.  This data came from the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which was a long-term programme launched by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Each child in the study was assessed every two years for the first 14 years of their life. These tests included reading challenges like word recognition and putting names to pictures. In addition to the information gathered from children the researchers also analysed the behaviour of the parents, such as how much mothers smoked or drank during pregnancy and how much emotional and intellectual support they offered.

Parents spent more time on activities such as reading, crafts and playing musical instruments with their first born children than they did with any of their others. Researchers also found that parents were more willing to take risks with their latter children, such as mothers smoking while pregnant.

The difference in approach reportedly began to show very early on, with first born children doing better in verbal, reading, maths and comprehension tests than their brothers and sisters did at the same age.

Lead author Dr Ana Nuevo-Chiquero is a lecturer in the University of Edinburgh’s School of Economics. She said the findings could explain why first born children do better in IQ tests, in school and in employment later in life than their siblings.

The full study was published in the academic Journal of Human Resources.

Photo by Paul via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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