It’s probably not a good idea to let your eldest sibling know about this one, lest you give them one more reason to brag about and lord it over you on account of intellectual superiority. Not unless, of course, you’re the first-born yourself, and you just learned that henceforth the scales have just been tipped in your favor when it comes to sibling rivalry, and it is time for some good ol’ bossing around.
According to a new research from a team of economists from the University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with the Sydney University, the eldest child in the family is one up on his/her younger siblings when it comes to thinking skills. And, this was evident in their study wherein the firstborns were able to get higher scores in their IQ tests even at an early age.
The Eldest Child Displays Greater Intellectual Ability Starting From Infancy
The findings of the study published in the Journal of Human Resources, which is entitled, “The Early Origins of Birth Order Differences in Children’s Outcomes and Parental Behavior,” involved close to 5,000 children who were observed and tested for their reading recognition like matching letters, naming names and reading single words aloud and picture vocabulary assessments.
These children were evaluated every two years in the duration of the study starting from pre-birth up to 14 years of age. The results of the tests conducted by the University of Edinburgh team returned a higher score for the eldest child when it comes to verbal, reading, math and comprehension abilities. The researchers based their observation from the data gathered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the U.S. Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.
The Findings Also Revealed Why The Eldest Child Tend To Be The Smartest
A previous study from the University of Leipzig, also suggests that the eldest child really does show that they can be a little bit smarter as compared to their other siblings, according to a 2015 article from BBC News. And the eldest child also tend to agree that they are better than their younger counterpart when it comes to cognitive skills like learning abstract ideas and having fuller vocabulary.
Earlier research also showed that this could be because of the eldest child’s social status within the family and not because of some biological processes during pregnancy.
The University of Edinburgh study seems to concur. The research team believes that the eldest child showed greater intellect because they get more mental stimulation from their parents at a very young age.
While the levels of emotional support among all the children were fairly equal, they found that the eldest child develops their thinking skills better than their younger siblings because parents tend to give them better support.
Parental Behavior Comes Into Play
As the number of their children grows, the behavior of the parents also changes, the study found. The parents from a growing family have less time to interact with the children like doing some reading sessions, or playing musical instruments. As a result, there is less mental stimulation with the younger siblings than the eldest child.
“Our results suggest that broad shifts in parental behaviour are a plausible explanation for the observed birth order differences in education and labour market outcomes,” said Dr Ana Nuevo-Chiquero from the Edinburgh University.
The benefits enjoyed by the eldest child, such as mental stimulation and emotional support from their parents, over their other siblings were more apparent in the earlier age, particularly from birth of the children until they reached three years of age.
The researchers also assessed other parental behavior during pre-birth like smoking and drinking, and found that mothers tend to have higher smoking activities on their latter pregnancies.
An earlier study from the National Bureau of Economic Research also found that parents imposed more stringent disciplinary environments for their eldest child that results to a decline of school performance by birth order. Parents are more strict and hands on when it comes to the schooling of their eldest child that translates to higher grades.
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