Second-Born Boys Are More Likely To Get In Trouble And Become Criminals, Study Shows

Second-born boys are more likely to be the black sheep of the family, a new scientific study shows.

New research found that the boys born second in the family are 20 to 40 percent more likely to be disciplined in school for bad behavior and to enter the criminal justice system than boys born first, Fox 8 noted. The study looked at siblings in Denmark and the United States, with researchers from MIT, Northwestern University, University of Florida, and Aarhus University in Denmark.

The study’s abstract stated that parents spent more time with the first-born children between the ages of 2 and 4, showing that parents are stretched for time to spend with second-born children. While this may seem like common knowledge to parents with more than one child, it presents a roadmap to identifying potential problems and treating them, researchers noted.

The effects were seen even more among boys in Denmark, the study found. Second-born Danish boys had substantially higher rates of juvenile crime, especially severe violent crime, and imprisonment.

The study could have implications for preventing crime and keeping the more troublesome boys from getting into the criminal justice system, researchers noted. They suggested using the data to monitor and intervene where necessary.

This study seems to contradict previous scientific reports that found birth order had little effect on personality. There had long been theories that birth order was closely tied to emotion and personality, the Atlantic noted, dating back to the 18th century when scientist Francis Galton theorized that first-born children were smarter.

But a 2015 study from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that birth order within a family had no real effect on the personality or intelligence of the children.

“All in all, we did not find any effect of birth order on extraversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, or imagination, a subdimension of openness,” the researchers wrote.


The study did find that first-borns were a bit more conscientious and dominant and a bit less sociable, but the Atlantic noted that the effects were so small that it wasn’t considered statistically significant.

While the latest study showed that second-born boys are more likely to get in trouble and even become criminals, there wasn’t a big difference between the first-born girl and second-born girl.

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