Study: Firstborn children have intellectual advantage over younger siblings

Two children compare heights. (Source: Shutterstock/New Africa)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Being the only child can have its advantages, but being the oldest could have even more. A study published in the Journal of Human Resources suggests that firstborn children are set up for more academic and intellectual success.

The findings of the study are based on the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of the Youth, which includes information of thousands of Americans between the ages of 14 and 21. Each participant was first interviewed in 1979 and re-interviewed since then. The data provides information on employment, income, education and other background information.

"First-time parents tend to want to do everything right and generally have a greater awareness of their interactions with and investments in the firstborn, " co-author Jee-Yeon K. Lehmann told Today.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, parents tend to read more to their firstborn, focus on their academic studies and involve them more in school clubs and sports.

The study also found that while parents give the same amount of love and care to all their children, firstborns have more of a mental stability compared to their younger siblings because parents are unable to keep the same level of engagement.

"All those learning activities that you did with your first child as excited, nervous and over-zealous parents actually seem to have some positive, long-lasting impact on their development," Lehmann told "Today", " the lesson here for parents is that the types of investments that you make in your kids matters a lot, especially those that you make in the children's first few years of life.

Firstborn tend to be more confident about themselves, particularly their academic performance, according to the study.

A previous study shows that younger siblings have a lower IQ compared to the oldest sibling and tend to perform poorly in school.