As much as the oldest siblings in a family might complain that they had it the worst, they might want to admit something else: That it made them better people. According to an interesting study, first born children are more ambitious and more successful than their other siblings. Specifically, first born girls.
There's a lot of reasons why women like Hillary Clinton, Oprah, and even Beyonce are successful — for one, they're all extremely intelligent. Yes, even if you're a Republican, you have to admit that Clinton is smart. And even if you like good music, you have to admit the same about Beyonce. But perhaps one factor that's been overlooked is that they're all first born children.
Feifei Bu, a professor at the Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, in London, set out to see if birth order really did have any impact on adults' lives. To figure this out, Bu analyzed 1,500 sibling groups and 3,532 individuals tracked through two studies — the British Household Panel and Understanding Siblings. Both reports contained plenty of information about the participants; things like income, birth order, profession, and more.
Bu found that first born children simply did better overall. They were seven percent more likely to be more educated than their siblings, even when controlling for things like their parents' educational level and socioeconomic status. And first born girls were clearly the best: They were 13 percent more ambitious and successful than first born boys. Bu's study also found that if parents want their second born kids to have any sort of drive at all, they should wait at least four years. The wider the gap between kids, the more likely the second child will be successful and ambitious.
The reason first born children do better? Well, it's sort of obvious: Parents are extremely excited about them. The second kid? Eh, not so much. "There are several possible explanations for the higher attainment and ambition of the eldest," Bu told the Guardian. "It could be that the parents simply devote more time and energy to them – it could be they are actually more intelligent. For me, I tend to lean towards the theory that parental investment is possibly at work here."
Bu's paper shows that no matter how much parents try to treat each child the same, there is a difference. What Bu's study doesn't explain is why first born girls fare better than first born boys. Perhaps it's what we've always sort of known, deep down inside: That girls are smarter than boys, and given that first born boost, they will leave boys in the dust.
[Image via Flickr - Alllan]