First-born children are more likely to do better at school because parents pay them more attention, according to new research.
The extra focus gives them an “edge” over younger brothers and sisters and higher IQs – as early as the age of one. Researchers found the eldest child outperformed siblings in thinking skills after receiving more “mental stimulation”.
Advantages started from just after birth to three years old. The differences were highlighted in language, reading, maths and comprehension abilities. As subsequent children were born mums and dads changed their behaviour – taking part in fewer activities such as such as reading, crafts and playing musical instruments.
Mothers also took higher risks – they were more likely to smoke during pregnancy once they had already had a child and were also less likely to breastfeed after birth, for instance.
Dr Ana Nuevo-Chiquero, of Edinburgh University, said: “Our results suggest broad shifts in parental behaviour are a plausible explanation for the observed birth order differences in education and labour market outcomes.”
“As early as age one, latter-born children score lower on cognitive assessments than their siblings, and the birth order gap in cognitive assessment increases until the time of school entry and remains statistically significant thereafter.
“Mothers take more risks during pregnancy and are less likely to breastfeed and to provide cognitive stimulation for latter-born children.
“Variations in parental behaviour can explain most of the differences in cognitive abilities before school entry.”
Since you are here
Since you are here, we wanted to ask for your help.
Journalism in Britain is under threat. The government is becoming increasingly authoritarian and our media is run by a handful of billionaires, most of whom reside overseas and all of them have strong political allegiances and financial motivations.
Our mission is to hold the powerful to account. It is vital that free media is allowed to exist to expose hypocrisy, corruption, wrongdoing and abuse of power. But we can't do it without you.
If you can afford to contribute a small donation to the site it will help us to continue our work in the best interests of the public. We only ask you to donate what you can afford, with an option to cancel your subscription at any point.
To donate or subscribe to The London Economic, click here.
The TLE shop is also now open, with all profits going to supporting our work.
The shop can be found here.
You can also SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER .