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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Birth order: Why first-born children are smarter -

Birth order: Why first-born children are smarter - 

A child's behaviour is often linked to birth order. But according to a new study, birth order also affects intelligence.

The National Bureau of Economic Research study found that "those born earlier perform better in school." The results showed that 33.8 per cent of mothers said their first-born was "one of the best students in the class," compared to the mere 1.8 per cent who put their child at the bottom.

For each child thereafter, the numbers fell for those stating their child was one of the best. The data polled only 31.8 per cent for their second child, 29 per cent for their third, and 27.2 per cent for their fourth.

Conversely, those stating their child was "near the bottom of the class" rose. The number increased to 2 per cent for their second child, 2.1 for the third, and 3.6 for the fourth. You get the picture. So while the study found that first-borns had higher IQs, it also found that parents considered them more accomplished.

So the question remains: why is this happening? The reason for first-borns having higher grades is directly based on parenting. Turns out, parents have a much stricter parenting approach with their first-born than they do with their second or third child.

The study explains that "parents 'play tough' when their older children engage in bad behavior -- tougher than caring, or altruistic, parents would prefer -- in an attempt to establish a reputation of toughness to deter bad behavior amongst their younger children."

Essentially, parents are trying to set a good example for their younger kids, so they practice stricter rules and punishment for their first child and are more involved in their academic performance. By doing this, parents hope to establish a "reputation" for being strict so that their younger kids will follow suit.

As a result of establishing this reputation in the household (or at least thinking so), parents relax their strict parenting approach on their subsequent children. Then with fewer pressures to do well in school, the younger children become relaxed as well, which leads to lower grades compared to their eldest sibling. It's as simple as that.


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