Birth order (probably) really matters

Yes, according to emerging scientific consensus, firstborns really tend to be smarter than their siblings.

From NYTimes:

In the study, Norwegian epidemiologists analyzed data on birth order, health status and I.Q. scores of 241,310 18- and 19-year-old men born from 1967 to 1976, using military records. After correcting for factors that may affect scores, including parents’ education level, maternal age at birth and family size, the researchers found that eldest children scored an average of 103.2, about 3 percent higher than second children (100.3) and 4 percent higher than thirdborns (99.0).

My first thought about how to utilize this information, was to givefromnowon those girls who are not firstborns some slack if their intellectual capabilities aren’t quite up to the parin the marriage market, sinceatleasttheymayhavegeneticallymorepotential than their expressed thinking skills otherwiseseemto indicate. As long as they are pretty enough and good in bed that’s all that matters from now on! The added benefit is of course that later borns are younger than their elder siblings (very important!).

Then some quite conventional wisdom:

This kind of experimentation might explain evidence that younger siblings often live more adventurous lives than their older brother or sister. They are more likely to participate in dangerous sports than eldest children, and more likely to travel to exotic places, studies find. They tend to be less conventional than firstborns, and some of the most provocative and influential figures in science spent their childhoods in the shadow of an older brother or sister (or two or three or four).

Firstborns have won more Nobel Prizes in science than younger siblings, but often by advancing current understanding, rather than overturning it.

“It’s the difference between every-year or every-decade creativity and every-century creativity,” Dr. Sulloway said, “between innovation and radical innovation.”

Vive la difference! Anyway, I think it should be clear to anyone who has read what I’ve written on this blog that I’m not a firstborn.

Update: On second thought, I may have been too eager to jump to any conclusions, since the IQ difference might well be at least partially genetical. After all firstborns tend to have less mutations in their genes since their parents had less time to have their genetic material damaged where it matters. And mutations of course are less often beneficial than not which might be explain the IQ difference and other things too.

I guess I have to reconsider cutting later borns some slack if their behaviour isn’t so good.

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