Oldest children may have more than just age on their younger brothers and sisters.
Firstborn kids may have better thinking skills compared with their siblings, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Human Resources. This is likely because they received more mental stimulation from their parents at an early age.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Sydney and economic consulting firm the Analysis Group analyzed data for approximately 5,000 U.S. children enrolled in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.
Each child was assessed every two years in a number of categories that measured their thinking skills, from vocabulary to reading comprehension. The study also took into account environmental factors like family background and economic status. The results revealed that firstborns scored higher on the tests, with the increased abilities starting as early as toddlerhood.
The study authors observed parental behavior as a potential way to determine why this pattern emerged. Researchers used an assessment tool called the Home Observation Measurement of the Environment to measure parents’ pre-birth, pregnancy and post-birth behaviors, including factors such as their smoking habits and their emotional involvement with their kids.
Unsurprisingly, as parents had more children, their level of participation in things like reading, crafts and educational activities dissipated. While children got equal amounts of emotional support, eldest children generally received more assistance with tasks related to developing thinking skills, The Guardian reported.
The research supports the theory that firstborns are environmentally primed to thrive better academically and financially when they’re older. Previous studies suggest older kids are more likely to strive for achievement and may be more successful than their siblings.
“Our results suggest that broad shifts in parental behavior are a plausible explanation for the observed birth order differences in education and labor market outcomes,” said lead study author Ana Nuevo-Chiquero, a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh who specializes in health economic research.
Translation: Thank (or blame) your folks for your IQ.
But don’t worry, younger kids: You still have advantages over your older sibling. Experts say middle children tend to be family peacekeepers, and research also shows the baby of the family is more creative and more social than his or her older brothers and sisters.
And hey, you all still have the chance to vie for the title of favorite child, because science also says your parents totally have one. May the best sibling win.