First-Born Children are Smarter, More Successful Than Their Siblings

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on Study Finds.

First-born children often think they’re smarter than their siblings – and now science seems to back them up. A recent study conducted jointly by researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and the University of Sydney in Australia finds that eldest children tended to have higher IQs than their younger brothers and sisters, performed better in school, and even earned more income.

The reason isn’t because first-born children receive greater emotional support at home, the researchers found. Rather it’s because their parents pay special attention to developing their thinking skills, while latter-born children receive comparatively less encouragement in this area.

The researchers arrived at their conclusion by examining longitudinal data collected by the U.S, Bureau of Labor Statistics on 5,000 children as they matured from early childhood. They matched that information with additional survey data on the attitudes and behaviors adopted by parents beginning with the pre-birth period of their children through early adolescence.

Parents were more likely to engage in mental stimulation activities such as reading to their children or playing musical instruments in the case of their first-born, researchers found.

According to the study, the mental development “gap” among first- and latter-born children starts early — and never narrows. By age one, first-born children are achieving scores on cognitive assessment tests that surpass those of their siblings and their performance edge grows prior to their entrance into primary school.

The persistence of that advantage for so long accounts for the higher educational and career attainment levels for first-born children, researchers concluded.

The study was published in the Journal of Human Resources.

Source: Study Finds

Help us reach the next generation of families

Back to Top

[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

  • About HomeWord

    HomeWord helps families succeed by creating Biblical resources that build strong marriages, confident parents, empowered kids and healthy leaders. Founded by Jim Burns, HomeWord seeks to advance the work of God in the world by educating, equipping, and encouraging parents and churches. Learn More »

  • Support Our Mission

    HomeWord is non-profit, donor supported ministry. If you would like to partner with HomeWord in our effort to help more parents and families you can make a donation. Your investment will allow us to expand this ministry by offering more resources to families and churches in need.

  • Contact Information

    • HomeWord
      PO Box 1600
      San Juan Capistrano, CA

    • Send us an email

    • 800-397-9725
      (M-F: 8:30am-5pm PST)