Eldest siblings tend to think they’re the kings and queens of the family. They were born first, so it only makes sense that they get the most attention and affection, right?
Youngest and middle children would beg to differ, but it turns out science mostly supports the eldest’s bragging rights.
Numerous studies have shown that birth order plays an important part in development. How much influence it has is a point of contention among experts, but regardless, there is something to be said about being the oldest one of the bunch.
If you’re an eldest sibling, take a look at the benefits of your birth order below. If anything they prove first is definitely not the worst.
1. Older siblings might be smarter.
Research suggests that eldest children have higher IQs on average than their younger siblings. In a 2007 study of 250,000 Norwegian young adults, firstborn men had an average IQ 2.3 points higher than their younger brothers.
Researchers believe the difference is due to environment rather than genetics. Eldest children often “teach” their younger siblings, which can help them to better retain information, according to the authors. Also, as a family grows, parents have less time to spend with each child.
“Every time you add a child, you’re diluting the intellectual environment of everyone in the family,” the researchers wrote in the study’s conclusion.
2. They could be more responsible.
Forging the path for their fellow siblings means eldest children learn some serious responsibility early in life. According to Jeffrey Kluger, author of The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us, eldest siblings tend to be the ones that focus the most on family loyalty and traditional achievement. As a result, they’re often seen as more obedient and responsible.
3. They might be more successful.
Not only do eldest children perform better in school, they also might be more successful in the professional world. According psychologist and New York University adjunct professor Ben Dattner, firstborns are achievement-oriented and eager to please their parents. Research also suggests they tend to dominate their younger siblings as an authority figure of sorts, making them acutely prepared to take on leadership roles in the professional world.
Plus, their parents perceive them to be more accomplished. Go figure.
4. Eldest children follow the rules.
While middle children are thought to be the rebellious ones, oldest children aremore likely to be rule-followers and stick to the status quo.
“Firstborns tend to be responsible, competitive and conventional, whereas laterborns have to ‘distinguish’ themselves and create a specific niche by being playful, cooperative, and especially, rebellious,” Belgian psychologists Vassilis Saroglou and Laure Fiasse wrote in a 2003 paper published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
5. They may be more conscientious.
In a 2015 study, firstborns were found to be slightly more conscientious, more agreeable and less neurotic than their younger siblings — characteristics that could help them in the long run.
A 2015 Australian study found that people who were more conscientious showed higher academic performance. Conscientiousness has also been found to be amajor key to success.
Revel in the glory, eldest siblings. It’s hard to argue with science. But we’re sure your mom still loves you all equally.