Don’t tell my brother and sister but first born are ‘probably’ most intelligent

Researchers discover that younger siblings are typically less stimulated during formative years


Are you a first-born child? Congratulations. You're probably more intelligent than your siblings, if you have any. If not, congratulations all the same.

New research has revealed that eldest children are usually cleverer than their younger brothers and sisters as they receive more mental stimulation in their formative years.

University of Edinburgh economists found that first-born children (no longer at risk of Biblical persecution) achieved higher IQ test scores – even as young as one-year-old.

Basically, parental behaviour changes with children. First-borns are apparently given more support when young, and aided more with guidance in thinking. Subsequently, the kid grew up to perform better in tests. And life, it seems.

There's greater disparity the older you go, according to the study, which was published in the Journal of Human Resources. The analysis focused on children’s mental progress from pre-birth to age 14. At 14, there was generally a bit more of a gap on tests.

All this isn't to say that parents don't love their youngsters as much. You can't really assess that. What's more, the research found that all children got the same degree of emotional support. It's just that mums and dads spend less time carrying out brain-stimulating activities with younger kids. Not as much reading time, music practice, and so on – things that help development.

Also, it appears parents are more likely to take increased risks with second, third, etc. kids. They're more likely to smoke around their children, for example.

Lead on the research Dr Ana Nuevo-Chiquero said the results could explain differences in achievement observed in education and employment down the line.

Typically, so say past studies, first-born kids are usually more successful and ambitious. One conducted by the University of Essex found that the eldest child is 16 per cent more likely to pursue higher education.

But they're also more likely to be short-sighted, so it's swings and roundabouts, right?

Experts at the University of Edinburgh and Sydney University warn that they used data collected by the US Bureau of Labour Statistics and that any results are generalities. They may not translate to individual families. You might be the youngest child and you might be doing great things.

If so, well done.

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