A recent study published in the Journal of Human Resources concludes that firstborn children “out-perform siblings” because they were given more mental stimulation during early stages of development.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and University of Sydney followed 5,000 children from birth to age 14 and every two years tested them on reading skills, vocabulary and word recognition. First born children were found to score higher than siblings and have higher IQ test results, even starting as early as 1 year old.
Although emotional support, love and care, from parents remained constant, the behavior of the parents changed as they welcomed more children into the family. Parents were shown to be less engaged and did not offer as many activities to support and develop thinking skills such as crafts, reading, educational toys, and musical instruments.
The study concluded that because first born children were given more mentally stimulating tasks at an early age, they have the advantage over other siblings. This might provide some explanation for the birth order effect, which indicates that firstborns tend to make more money and get a better education than their siblings.
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