There are different theories about how children's birth order affects their abilities, talents and career success. American scientists have confirmed one of them: first-born children at least most often have a higher level of education, and there are very prosaic reasons for this.
Scientists at the University of Houston used data from the long-term Project TALENT study, which was conducted on a representative sample of 377 thousand American schoolchildren in 1960 and repeated 50 years after the initial assessment. The study analyzed the influence of birth order on the choice of a career in a particular field, professional merit and social status.
Using this sample, the scientists decided to test two popular psychological models that are associated with birth order: niche seeking and fusion. The niche search model suggests that siblings select competing strategies. First-borns strive to occupy a more traditional niche in career and social behavior, so they are mainly focused on achievements in school and work, and are quite responsible and self-confident. Later children prefer to be “rebels”: they are more likely to choose creative professions, are easy-going, more open and sociable.
The fusion model suggests that first-born children are more educated, because with each birth of a new child the intellectual environment in family is eroded, leaving later children less incentive for development.
The results of the study showed that first-born children are indeed more educated and intellectually developed, which has a positive effect on their career achievements. Scientists have also found that first-born children are more likely to choose creative careers than their younger brothers and sisters, and are more successful in them.
According to the study authors, parents should not get hung up on the idea that the birth order of children should affect on choosing their professional path. “Just don’t be surprised if your firstborn wants to become an artist,” the scientists noted.