We know that first-born children are smarter than their siblings (well, at least according to this study), but now first-born have one more thing to lord over their younger siblings’ heads. A new study claims that second-born children are more likely to misbehave, sometimes with severe consequences. According to a report from Joseph Doyle, an MIT economist, the “curse of the second-born child” might be true after all. Doyle and his colleagues say that second-borns (particularly boys) are inclined to be more rebellious than their older siblings.
Their collected data, which looked at thousands of sets of brothers in both the U.S. and Europe, showed that second-born children are 25 to 40 percent more likely to get in serious trouble at school or with the law.
One possible explanation for these findings is that parenting styles can change according to birth order, according to NPR. For example, first-born kids often receive undivided attention from parents, while younger siblings have to compete for attention. And, as the family grows, dynamics change.
“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.”
Don’t worry if you’re a second-born child, though—this research doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life of crime and mayhem, only that your birth order might just matter a bit more than you think!