The firstborn children in any family has been excited about a study posted in the Journal of Human Resources that says they may be smarter than their siblings. Another study is giving them even greater reason to be happy. This study was in the form of a poll taken by British website Mum’s net. It showed that the middle child was the least likely to be a parents’ favorite.
If that research wasn’t enough to make a firstborn child smile, another study from 2017 puts the icing on the cake. This study comes from Joseph Doyle, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of technology. According to the report, the second born child is more likely to misbehave than any other children. It turns out that ‘middle child syndrome’ may have some teeth to it after all.
The study by Doyle showed that second-born children, particularly boys, tended to be more rebellious than their brothers and sisters. Thousands of sets of brothers across Europe and the United States were used in this study. According to the data, second born children are up to 40% more likely to get in trouble at school. There are even more likely to get in trouble with the law!
One of the reasons why second born children may experience these problems could be traced back to the parents. Social Science Correspondent Shankar Vedantam feels that parenting styles may change after the second child is born.
“A number of studies have looked into this. And they’ve found that firstborns often do better than secondborns on many fronts, everything from educational attainment to test scores, IQ, wages, even labor market outcomes.”
“One possible explanation has to do with the effect of parental time and investment,” Vedantam continues later in the conversation. “As many other earlier studies have noted, firstborn kids get the undivided attention of their parents, whereas kids born later are often competing for parental time and resources. Another factor that might be different is the peer group for first- and second-born kids is different. Older and younger siblings come from the same family, but they have different peer groups early in life.”
Doyle also discussed his findings with NPR. He talks about the reasons why he feels second children are more likely to be the problem child.
“The firstborn has role models who are adults. And the second, later-born children have role models who are slightly irrational 2-year-olds — you know, their older siblings. Both the parental investments are different, and the sibling influences probably contribute to these differences we see in the labor market and what we find in delinquency. It’s just very difficult to separate those two things because they happen at the same time.”