Why Firstborn Children Are Smarter Than Their Siblings, Says Science

Oldest child for the win!

child sitting at table doing homework Fabio Principe / Shutterstock

Firstborn children basically mean you're the experimental child. And sometimes, being the firstborn sucks big time, because occasionally you'll want to forfeit all responsibilities that come along with the title.

But studies show that it all seems to pay off in the end.

Two studies — one from the National Bureau of Economic Research and another from the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) — have looked at how birth order affects the ability to succeed.


But ISER takes it one step further and found that firstborn females are the ones that are more likely to succeed. 

RELATED: 8 Brutal Truths About Loving A First-Born (As Written By One)

Just remember your birth order doesn't always have to end up like the most usual of circumstances. You can do whatever you set your mind to.

Here are the top findings that show how firstborns are more likely to succeed as a whole, especially girls.

1. Firstborn children tend to excel more in school.

The study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that firstborn children excel more in school than their younger siblings.


So, what's exactly creating this difference? Apparently, it's all about how parents treat the firstborns. 

Researchers noticed that parents' restrictions on their kids become less and less according to their birth order. (Not that we needed science to make that observation.) As a result, younger siblings' school performance declines along with birth order. 

During the study, parents were asked how they would respond if their younger students brought home bad grades, and they said they would be less likely to punish them, whereas they would have punished the firstborn.

Yikes — seems a little unfair. But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right firstborns?


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2. Firstborn girls, specifically, are more likely to succeed.

Interestingly, "Researchers have found that firstborn girls are the most ambitious and successful children in their families."

A study conducted by Feifei Bu and her colleagues surveyed 1,503 groups of siblings, which were 3,552 individuals.

This study found that "Eldest daughters are an additional four percent more likely to go on to higher education than eldest sons — the next most successful sibling type." They also found that the oldest child is "Seven percent more ambitious than children born later."

The study concluded that "Firstborn girls are 13 perfect more likely to aspire to higher education than firstborn boys."


Bu said, "There are several possible explanations for the higher attainment and ambition of the eldest. It could be that the parents simply devote more time and energy to them — it could be that they are actually more intelligent. For me, I tend to lean towards the theory that parental investment is possibly at work here."

As the oldest child, they have more one-on-one time with their parents. So, their exclusive attention may have instilled their need to focus on themselves.

RELATED: Who You're Most Compatible With, Based On Your Birth Order


Nicole Weaver is a love and entertainment writer. Find her on Twitter for more.