I’ve always known that firstborns are vastly superior, mostly because I am one. Luckily, when you get into a screaming match with your sibling(s) that’s so nasty it should be reserved for angry toddlers, you can use science to back up your claim that you’re the more beloved child.
According to The Atlantic, older children perform better in school (and life, I would presume). It’s because parents basically give up when it comes to their younger kids, so the firstborns have all of the pressure to perform that their siblings lack. Think about it — while your parents probably made everyone within a 25 mile radius wash their hands, sanitize their entire bodies, and put on a Bubble Boy suit before so much as looking at you, by the time your baby sibling rolled around they were comfortable letting them eat dirt. After all, if your parents didn’t manage to kill the first one, how hard could it be to keep the second one alive? Unlike a game of Sims, raising a baby isn’t as terrifying as it seems, other than all of the diaper duty and teen angst that comes along with it.
If you weren’t lucky enough to be the first baby, you’re probably questioning the validity of this study. Understandable, as you’re not as bright as a firstborn. Luckily, I’m here to explain it to you. The economists involved say that when it comes to kids, practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect. According to international surveys that studied birth order and behavior (throwback to that psych class you tried to sleep through), firstborns have higher IQs, do better in school, and are seen as more impressive to their parents. I always knew I was the favorite. Parents think their subsequent children are only “average.” I only hope my little brother is reading this.
There are 6 theories that attempt to explain this phenomenon. I would have just gone with because I said so, but that’s probably because I’m the firstborn. The “Divided-Attention Theory” says that firstborns naturally get more attention. That’s understandable. Everyone knows that only children think they deserve it all, and first children get to be only kids for a while. It’s basically the best of both worlds — you learn how to share, but you also know that you deserve all of the attention.
The “Bad-Genes Theory” is that younger kids don’t have the great DNA of firstborns, because we take it all. Sounds fishy to me. The “I’ve-Had-It-With-Kids! Theory” is that parents stop having kids after a particularly regrettable one, which doesn’t really explain why firstborns are better; it explains why those parents are the worst. The “No-One-to-Teach Theory” is pretty decent — it says that older siblings become smarter when they teach their younger siblings skills, whether it’s how to interact with humans or homework help. The “Divorce Theory” is that divorces usually happen after the first child, so the subsequent kids have to deal with the emotional turmoil it causes at a younger age. Finally, the “Lazy Parent Theory” is says that once parents have raised one, they basically give up on the next couple of kids. Understandable.
The last study is the most popular, which makes sense because parents are so strict about the firstborn. Whether it’s in regard to the opposite sex, homework help, or a ridiculously early bedtime they wouldn’t even think about trying to make the rest of their kids comply with, the firstborn has some seriously intense standards to live up to. When the firstborn messes up and the parents miraculously survive, it leaves them more open to the mayhem of the second child. While I’d like to believe this theory is entirely true, it’s pretty difficult to test. But hey, if it means I have a valid reason to say I’m better than my little brother, I’ll take it.