How your birth order affects you

Like it or not, studies show that the order in which you are born may have a huge effect on the outcome of your life, with older children tending to be smarter and higher achievers in business and academics than younger siblings.

However, that’s not to say all is lost for younger siblings, as they tend to be more adventurous, more outdoorsy, more creative and possibly, more athletically gifted.

A study published in the Journal of Human Resources, found that firstborn children score higher on IQ tests than their younger siblings.

A first-born or only child is also more likely to become a doctor, lawyer or CEO, whereas a younger sibling is more likely to get into sports and more adventurous activities.

You can chalk it up to parenting and sibling rivalry. While smarter siblings may excel academically, younger siblings will naturally turn to their strengths. According to a study published on Taylor & Francis Online:

“Research suggests that the way athletes view sport participation can be shaped by their experiences and relationships with siblings. Athletes may choose or avoid certain physical activities based on the interests of their siblings, and athletes may define their athletic abilities based on the abilities of their siblings. Moreover, natural rivalry exists between siblings and is especially present when siblings compete against one another in sport contexts.”

Another study published by The Institute of Labor Economics revealed that first-born children are more likely to be managers or in occupations that require leadership ability, while children born later tend to be self-employed.

A 2007 survey of corporate leaders found that 43 per cent of CEOs were firstborns, 33 per cent were middle children, and 23 per cent were youngest children.

Parents tend to be overprotective of firstborn or only children and, in turn, these children are likely to pursue brain-based interests. When more children come into the family, parents tend to ‘ease up’, allowing children the freedom to follow more adventurous pursuits.

According to WebMD, first-born kids get around 3000 more hours of quality time with parents than younger siblings do at the same age. This may be because, once another child comes along, there’s less free time to spend with two or more children than there was with just one.

However, another study shows that those younger children tend to be closer to their mothers as time goes on but the same study revealed that mothers will turn to first-borns in a time of crisis.

First-born children are also more likely to put pressure on themselves to achieve more in life. Same goes for only children, as kids without siblings are more often treated as adults at a younger age.

When it comes to sibling rivalry, those spaced less than two years apart are more likely to have more conflict in their relationship than siblings born more than two years apart, paediatricians say.

And while a study published on Brain Imaging and Behavior showed that only children tend to exhibit higher levels of creativity, they’re also slightly less agreeable. This same study also showed that while birth order may affect occupation and intelligence, it has very little to do with the creation of a child’s personality.

However, other studies give a rough idea of how a child’s personality may evolve within the family structure. The first-born tends to be the high achiever, the middle child takes on the role of peacemaker, while the youngest tend to be more outgoing and charming to get attention yet have a greater sense of independence.

Do you agree with any of these findings? What was your experience as a child? Do you think your birth order affected your occupation, interests or personality?

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