Monday, November 13, 2017

First-born children have superior thinking skills to their younger siblings

I am a firstborn.

Jee-Yeon K. Lehmann, Ana Nuevo-Chiquero  and Marian Vidal-Fernandez.  The Early Origins of Birth Order Differences in Children’s Outcomes and Parental Behavior.  J. Human Resources November 2, 2016 0816-8177.

We document birth order differences in cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes and maternal behavior from birth to adolescence using data from the Children of the NLSY79. As early as age one, latter-born children score lower on cognitive assessments than their siblings, and the birth order gap in cognitive assessment increases until the time of school entry and remains statistically significant thereafter. Mothers take more risks during pregnancy and are less likely to breastfeed and to provide cognitive stimulation for latter-born children. Variations in parental behavior can explain most of the differences in cognitive abilities before school entry. Our findings suggest that broad shifts in parental behavior from first to latter-born children is a plausible explanation for the observed birth order differences in education and labor market outcomes.

In addition to having the privilege of being the first to use clothes and toys, firstborn children can now add another advantage over their siblings.

According to a study published in the Journal of Human Resources, firstborn children may have better thinking skills than their siblings because they received more mental stimulation during their early stages of development.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh, the Analysis Group and the University of Sydney found that children who were born first typically scored higher on IQ tests than their younger siblings.

For the study, researchers used data from the U.S. Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth on nearly 5,000 children who were monitored from pre-birth to age 14. Every two years, the children in the longitudinal survey were assessed on a slew of categories, including reading, vocabulary assessment and matching letters.

The research found that firstborn children typically perform better than their siblings as early as age 1,  which could be due to how parents treat subsequent children. According to the study, parents were less likely to partake in mentally stimulating activities with their younger children, meaning they may not have developed the same thinking skills as the older sibling.

“Our results suggests that broad shifts in parental behavior are a plausible explanation for the observed birth order differences in education and labor market outcomes,” Ana Nuevo-Chiquero, of the University of Edinburgh School of Economics, said in a statement.


They may be jokingly referred to as PFBs – precious first borns – on popular parenting websites, but a study says first-born children really do reap the benefits of being number one.

Research by the University of Edinburgh has found that first-born children have superior thinking skills to their younger siblings because they get more mental stimulation from their parents.

While the study found that parents give all their children the same levels of emotional support, the first-born generally received more help with tasks that develop thinking skills…

First-borns do have some disadvantages, however. A study published in 2015 suggested that they were up to 20% more likely to develop short-sightedness than their younger siblings.

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