According to a study by the University of Edinburgh, the oldest sibling has a “mental edge” over their younger brothers and sisters.
Approximately 5,000 children were observed from pre-birth to 14 years old with every participant assessed every two years with tests that included “reading recognition such as matching letters, naming names and reading single words aloud and picture vocabulary assessments.”
Environmental factors like family background and financial information were also taken into account for the study.
The study found that:
“Firstborns score higher than their siblings in IQ tests as early as age one, the study has found.
Although all children received the same levels of emotional support, first-born children received more support with tasks that developed thinking skills.”
The researchers said that their conclusions help explain the so-called “birth order effect,” which is when older children “enjoy better wages and more education in later life.”
What the scientists found was that the oldest children directly benefited from what can be derived as overbearing behaviors of the parents.
“Researchers applied statistical methods to economic data to analyze how the parental behavior of the child was related to their test scores.
The researchers then used an assessment tool, the Home Observation Measurement of the Environment, to observe parental behavior, including pre-birth behavior, such as, smoking and drinking activity during pregnancy and post-birth behaviour, such as, mental stimulation and emotional support.
The findings showed that advantages enjoyed by first born siblings start very early in life – from just after birth to three years of age. The differences increased slightly with age, and showed up in test scores that measured verbal, reading, math and comprehension abilities.”
They concluded the study directly relating to the lax approach parents take with the subsequent offspring, saying:
“They offered less mental stimulation to younger siblings and also took part in fewer activities such as reading with the child, crafts and playing musical instruments.
Mothers also took higher risks during the pregnancy of latter-born children, such as increased smoking.”
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