ACCORDING to a study – carried out by Feifei Bu at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex – female first-borns are statistically more likely to be more ambitious and four per cent more likely to achieve further education qualifications compared to their other siblings and male first-born counterparts.
The study followed 1,503 sibling groups and 3,532 individuals and while taking into account parents’ education and occupation the research found first-born children were seven per cent more likely to achieve and generally first-born girls were 13 per cent more ambitious in their goals than first-born boys.
“First-born children have higher aspirations, and that these aspirations play a significant role in determining later levels of attainment,” concluded the study.
According to the Guardian the study’s author – Feifei Bu – said there could be multiple reasons why the eldest children achieve.
“There are several possible explanations for the higher attainment and ambition of the eldest,” said Bu. “It could be that the parents simply devote more time and energy to them – it could be they are actually more intelligent. For me, I tend to lean towards the theory that parental investment is possibly at work here.”
The research also found and that the greater the gap between children, the greater the chance of gaining higher qualifications, with the optimal break being four years.
“I don’t think the number of children is something I can say anything about,” said Bu. “This study was done here in the UK, where family size tends to be smaller, so there was no substantial difference to note.”
However, when boys are born first – like Barack Obama, Richard Branson or Bill Clinton – they don’t do too badly either.
While being the eldest may prove to have its advantages, an Auckland study this year found first-born children are more likely than second-borns to be overweight.
According to the Scientific Reports journal – “first-born men were heavier and had lower insulin sensitivity than second-borns.”
But the Kiwi study conceded that more research is needed to fully evaluate the link.