First-born children smarter than siblings, second-born more likely to cause trouble

In this April 6, 2018, photo, Caleb Coulter, 10, left, and his sister Kendra, 12, play tag during a visit to the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City. Critics say letting children strike out on their own can expose them to serious dangers. But lawmakers and advocates in several states say the protective pendulum has swung too far. They want to send a message that parents who raise their children in a healthy environment can grant them more freedom. Amy Coulter, mother of Caleb and Kendra, said she doesn't call herself a free-range parent. But she does avoid intervening with teachers on her older children's grades and encourages her children to use their own money to buy things at the grocery store. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) -- Studies have shown that first-born children are smarter than their siblings, and now we're learning that second-born children are more likely to cause trouble.

A University of Edinburgh study shows first-born children have higher IQs and better thinking skills than their siblings.

The study says that shows first-born kids get more mental stimulation than their brothers and sisters.

"The study, which used data collected by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, examined nearly 5,000 children from pre-birth to age 14 and considered factors such as family background and economic conditions," Kate Frost says in Country Living. "The first-borns scored higher on tests including reading and picture vocabulary, which according to the researchers, could reflect the 'birth order effect'. This means children born earlier in a family go on to have a better level of education and earn higher wages further down the line."

Meanwhile, another study is showing that second-born children, especially boys, are more likely to misbehave, sometimes with serious consequences.

A report from Dr. Joseph Doyle used data from thousands of sets of brothers in the U.S. and Europe and found second-born children are 25 to 40 percent more likely to get in serious trouble at school and/or with the law.

One explanation says that's because parenting styles can often change due to birth order.

"The firstborn has role models who are adults. And the second, later-born children have role models who are slightly irrational 2-year-olds — you know, their older siblings," Doyle told NPR. "Both the parental investments are different, and the sibling influences probably contribute to these differences we see in the labor market and what we find in delinquency. It's just very difficult to separate those two things because they happen at the same time."
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