You've probably heard the sterotype that first-born children are leaders and go-getters, whereas their younger siblings are spoiled troublemakers. Several scientific studies are finding that there's truth behind that thinking, reports the Wall Street Journal. The piece is a response to a larger story by Jeffrey Kluger in the new issue of Time, which asserts that birth order influences behavior in several ways:
Families bestow greater resources and attention on the first-born, and eldest children often adopt the role of caretaker toward younger siblings. A Philippine study found that later-born siblings weigh less than earlier-borns. According to a Norwegian study, the eldest child enjoys on average a three-point IQ advantage over the next eldest sibling, a gap attributed to the older kids' roles as mentors to the younger children. These advantages might explain why eldest children are overrepresented among board directors, M.B.A.s and surgeons.
The WSJ article by Robin Moroney also states that within families, the youngest children tend to have to struggle for attention — and in doing so resort to subversive behavior. Moroney notes that this isn't always to their disadvantage: "Some of the most famous satirists have been later-borns — Jonathan Swift, Mark Twain and Stephen Colbert." Later-borns are also more willing to take on risk, says Frank Sulloway, a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. But when you throw fame into the mix, it creates a situation in which we do not know who is better off: Jessica or Ashlee Simpson? Kim Kardashian or her 9-year-old pole dancing sister? Paris or Nicky Hilton? Ben or Casey Affleck? Luke or Owen Wilson? Nick or Aaron Carter?