Older siblings tend to be more successful in life, research says. Does that hold true for your family?
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The order you were born can have an impact on how successful you are in life, according to Sandra Black, an economics professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
In her research, Black has found that first-born children tend to do better than their younger siblings when it comes to education and earnings. After the first-born, there’s a declining pattern by birth order, with the second-born doing “a little bit worse than the first-born” and so on, she says.
One of the possible reasons she suggests for this: greater investment in earlier-born children from their parents.
But remember: the research found this was true on average, and we’re aware that some families might have a completely different dynamic than what the evidence suggests. So we tossed the question to you: does the research reflect your own family dynamic? Or have you had a completely different experience?
Here’s what you said:
Some oldest children agree (don’t worry, we won’t tell your siblings).
The answer is …. (looking to make sure my sister isn’t near)… yes. (Oldest child here)
— AnErinInAustin (@austintxerin) July 18, 2018
Even some younger children do, too.
— Paul Shepherd (@pixelchaser) July 18, 2018
Yes this is true for my family! Brother has a Ph.D., graduated hs valedictorian, sister is lawyer, graduated top 3% and I have bachelors, graduated alphabetical order!
— Sara Tubbs (@rindtubbs) July 18, 2018
But a couple of you younger siblings definitely *don’t* agree.
This does not hold true for my family at all—my older sister struggled to succeed even as she did benefit from greater parental attention and tutoring.
— Lillian Guerra (@Lillian_Guerra) July 18, 2018
@tdsamuelson My fam:
#1 GED/Blue collar, #2 Associates degree, works 4 state, #3(me) MBA VP in Banking, now stay-home mom, #4 Associates degree, Town clerk… so No, does not work for my fam. ☺ enjoyed the review!
— Holly Griffith (@hollyfgriffith) July 18, 2018
And a few other first-borns told us the research didn’t reflect their experiences either.
No, I’m the eldest of four and the lowest earner, median educated.
— Gammon Roaster (@cmcarrolljr) July 18, 2018
@Marketplace I’m 3.5 years older than my brother and have always been the overachiever. But his 2016 Astronomy BA from @CUBoulder is doing better than my 2009 Communications BA from @PurdueAlumni; he was recruited by the military and his salary is about to surpass mine.
— Julia Pullen (@JulPul14) July 18, 2018
My brother is five years younger than I; he is a scientist and I am a social worker. He is hardly rolling in dough (public service FTMFW) but he does make more. He has a year of graduate school (public policy) but I just have a BA.
— LilDykeOnThePrairie (@heydusti) July 18, 2018
Sometimes you see evidence of both in your life.
Probably not true (over a lifetime) for my family. Younger brother is working in tech. I’m in education ¯_(ツ)_/¯. But my wife is youngest of 4 and has been a stay at home mom for the last 5 years. Oldest is employed in private section six figures. Middle two work part/TA. True
— ??♂️ (@_JGarcia1) July 18, 2018
One listener found that success had more to do with personality.
@Marketplace Achievement in my family has had more to do with personality. The eldest, my sis, is relatively passive. My brother, the mid, is more Type A. As the youngest by 8/6 yrs, I’m more balanced, but matured slowly, as many youngest kids often do. #savingthebestforlast ?
— Melinda P Simpson (@positiveoutrage) July 18, 2018
And one of you wisely pointed out that money doesn’t necessarily = happiness.
Nice report. Would have been interesting if it also correlated subjective happiness with economic success. As the first of 2 kids, it seems to hold true, but not sure about happiness or life satisfaction.
— Jonathan (@jmargulies) July 18, 2018