It’s true – the eldest child is the smartest, and this is why

Soz middle kids

You’ve probably heard it before and brushed it off if you’re a second, third or fourth+ child – but it’s true: the eldest sibling is the smartest, according to research.

And there’s not just one reason for it. Apparently, there are a few. Le sigh.

A US study found that ‘those born earlier perform better at school’, and it’s all down to the parents. It concludes that they go a little easier on their second+ child/ren, and the oldest tends to experience better parenting leading to better marks at school.

The data from international surveys was analysed by economists V. Joseph Hotz and Juan Pantano and they found that the oldest kids had higher IQs, performed better at school in terms of grades, and are believed to be more accomplished.

The 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth was used by researchers to asses parent evaluations of children, and they found that mums are more likely to view their first child as a high achiever, with the later children seen as more ‘average’.

There are multiple theories to back up the claim. Firstly, there’s the Divided Attention Theory that claims the first born receives more time and attention because the attention isn’t split between multiple children. Then there’s the Bad Genes Theory, claiming that higher IQ is dished out to the eldest and is then diminishes per child.

Next up is the I’ve-Had-It-With-Kids! Theory, believing that if their second+ child is difficult then they’ll stop having children.

Others include:

The No-One-to-Teach Theory: This is the idea that older siblings benefit from the ability to teach their younger brothers and sisters. Building these teaching skills helps them build learning skills that makes them better in school.

The Divorce Theory:Family crises like divorce are far more likely to happen after the first child in born (first marriage, then divorce, then a first child is not a common sequence) and they can disrupt later kids’ upbringing.

The Lazy-Parent Theory: The general idea here is that first-time parents, scared of messing up their new human, commit to memory the first chapter of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother but by the second or third child, they’ve majorly chilled out.

V. Joseph Hotz and Juan Pantano believe that the Lazy-Parent Theory is the most likely to be accurate.

What do you think?

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