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Jul 18, 2019

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Older siblings tend to be more successful in life, research says. Does that hold true for your family?

Marketplace Staff Jul 18, 2018
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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). 

Even some younger children do, too.

But a couple of you younger siblings definitely *don’t* agree. 

And a few other first-borns told us the research didn’t reflect their experiences either. 

Sometimes you see evidence of both in your life.

One listener found that success had more to do with personality.

And one of you wisely pointed out that money doesn’t necessarily = happiness.

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When you contribute directly to Marketplace, you become a partner in that mission: someone who understands that when we all get smarter, everybody wins.