10 Ways That Birth Order Affects Your Life

Tyler Durden's picture

Where you exist in your family’s birth order can profoundly inform your path in life, whether because of genetics or simply the way that family members tend to treat firstborns vs. middle children vs. youngest children.  Psychologists have been debating the “Why?” since the 1800s, but, as ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, the outcome is certain regardless of the cause – the effects of birth order last for a lifetime...


Via ConvergEx's Nick Colas,

For example, firstborn kids are often rules-following and do better in society, while younger children tend to be revolutionaries, artists and so forth.  Only children generally act like firstborns.  Today’s Note from ConvergEx explains how birth order matters through the lens of a top 10 list of things you should know about birth order psychology.  After all, much of business and investing depends on your ability to evaluate people, and this is another useful tool.
Note From Nick: If you had to size up a stranger and you could only ask them one question, what would it be?  For me, the answer is simple: “Where are you in the birth order of your siblings?”  Are you a first/only child, or a later born?  As Beth outlines today, the answer is quite telling.  By virtue of genetics or childrearing (the debate rages there), birth order matters a lot to the person you become.  
Question: What do Hillary Clinton, Marissa Mayer, Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé have in common?  Answer: They are all firstborn girls.  Who all happen to be on the Forbes list of most powerful women in the world.  And if you consult findings from the vast field of birth order psychology, you’ll see that there is probably more than coincidence at play here.  A study released just last month found that firstborn girls are statistically the most likely to succeed among any combination of birth order and gender, for the simple explanation that parents devote more time and energy to them.  It could be that they are more intelligent too, but evidence points to the role of parental investment as the leading cause.
Well what about Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs and Aristotle?  They were all adopted.  And according to Adam Pertman, author of a book on the subject titled Adoption Nation, adopted people “feel more compelled to show that they can do it” due to a sense of loss of their original family.  A feeling of rejection often pushes adopted children to wonder if they are good enough and whether they are the reason their original family is no longer intact.  As a result, they’re predisposed to prove their worthiness and avoid another tragedy.
While birth order is not the end all be all – for example Ted Bundy was also adopted – it certainly impacts our personality and therefore the course of our lives.  Success in the business world is partly dependent on your ability to read people and understand their emotional intelligence, of which birth order plays a key role.  Thus we’ve compiled a top 10 list of things you should keep in mind about birth order psychology and how it factors into our lives.  Read on for the details…

1) More than half of Nobel prizewinners and U.S. presidents are firstborn children, as were 21 of the first 23 astronauts into space.  Again, there is more than coincidence at play here because the general psychological consensus is that firstborns are natural leaders and perfectionists who tend to be ambitious and possess strong drive and determination.  As a result, they gravitate toward professions requiring precision such as careers in science, medicine, law, engineering, computer science and accounting, according to research published in Science Daily.


2) Secondborns and middle children are the most likely to become professional athletes.  They often feel inferior to their older siblings and thus are fiercely competitive, leading them to excel at team sports.  This competition also pushes them to be innovative in coming up with ways to stand out from other siblings, and they also learn to become good negotiators and compromisers, which causes may to possess superior social skills later in life.  Popular career choices include trial lawyers or social activists, who may be attempting to capitalize on a sense of injustice from being overlooked by the demands of their oldest and youngest sibling (also according to research published in Science Daily).


3) Lastborns are the most self-confident and socially successful.  As the “baby” of the family, lastborns develop strong social and coping skills as a result of being nurtured by older family members.  They learn from older siblings and therefore tend to reach some milestones earlier in life.  They also tend to be affectionate, creative and spontaneous and thrive on being center of attention while blaming others for their mistakes.


4) Only children get the highest grades, but they struggle in kindergarten – socially.  Ohio State researchers studying how kindergarteners make friends found that those without siblings have poorer social skills vs. their peers, but by the 5th grade those social skills normalize and as adults there is no lingering effect.  Additionally, a study published in the American Sociological Review found that siblings hurt a child academically, as the greater the family size the less time parents spend talking to each child about school and the less they save for college.  Parents of larger families also have lower educational expectations for each child and fewer available educational materials.


5) Each additional sibling you have reduces that likelihood that you will divorce by as much as 2%.  The same Ohio State researchers as in #4 elaborated that more siblings translates to more experience in dealing with others, which seems to lead to additional assistance in dealing with marriage relationships later on in life.  More siblings also means more opportunities to practice negotiating and understanding opposing points of view.  Interestingly enough, though, the divorce benefits stop after the 7th sibling.  The 8th doesn’t hurt, rather just stops having an effect on communication skills, etc.


6) The greater the age gap between siblings, the better chance the children have to succeed.  A study conducted by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex concluded that children are most likely to achieve higher levels of educational attainment if the distance between their siblings is four years or more.


7) Firstborn girls are 13% more ambitious than firstborn boys.  According to the same University of Essex study, firstborn girls are statistically the most likely to succeed for this reason, as the extra dose of ambition means that they are more likely to further their education than their male counterparts.  Firstborns overall, regardless of gender, are 7% more likely to continue their education than are their brother and sisters.


8) There is a negative correlation between birth order and IQ.  Psychologists have been debating this statement for decades, but a recent study by Norwegian epidemiologists Petter Kristensen and Tor Bjerkedal received major respect from the psychological community.  Praised for its sheer size (some 250,000 Norwegian constituents) and strict controls for family size, the study deemed that the greater the number of older siblings one has the lower the IQ – albeit not by much.


9) Birth rank among twins, triplets, etc. – though it may be determined by only a matter of minutes – still matters.  The firstborn takes on a leadership role for a twin pair, while the secondborn is more compliant and willing to follow, according to multiple studies by the pioneer in the field of birth order psychology, Alfred Adler.


10) Adopted children over the age of five bring their birth order with them.  Before the age of five, regardless of whether they are adopted within the family’s birth order, adopted children naturally take on the characteristics as would any child.  However, an 8-year-old firstborn adopted child would still have the personality traits of a firstborn even if he/she were adopted into a family with a 12-year old.  You can see how conflict might arise…

To sum it up, birth order – and to a broader extent, family life – matters, even though we don’t yet know why it does.  There are no hard and fast rules, as in the Steve Jobs/Ted Bundy comparison, but birth order psychology indeed provides a set of loose guidelines that, in conjunction with other analytical tools, can contribute to your understanding of another person – what motivate them, what causes them to succeed and under which circumstances they are likely to fail.

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TrumpXVI's picture

Hmmmm, in my family almost the direct OPPOSITE of those so called tendencies are what have developed!

max2205's picture

Ben and Janet were hatched.....what does that make them

knukles's picture

Repeatedly dropping children on their heads after hatching works wonders.
And if it don't work out, the aliens will always take them as protoplasm for the stem cell production program.
See, mommy really didn't give a shit about you.
She was just a good liar.

Anusocracy's picture

Which one hatched first?

duo's picture

O was born in 1961 but hatched in 2006.....

I am more equal than others's picture



Ben and Janet were hatched.....what does that make them

Come on...

Satan spawns his evil minions. 

cifo's picture

"What do Hillary Clinton, Marissa Mayer, Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé have in common?  Answer: They are all firstborn girls."

Who TF wants to have children like Hillary Clinton or Marissa Mayer anyway?


SmackDaddy's picture

had to yahoo search mayer.  damn id fuck the shit out of her....

cifo's picture

there is more than looks...

Oh regional Indian's picture

I think Dubya's coming into office threw a lot of people's sense of what it "takes" to succeed in life, and putting him there was probably for that very reason.

Destroy the accepted path. Understand where "member" "Ships" can take you. To ports that are closed to most.

But interestsingly, this line "while younger children tend to be revolutionaries, artists and so forth." matches my life so completely! :-) 

Rebel without a pause....



Meanwhile, the older sibling is a breat cancer surgeon in the US with a pe-degree list as long as it is deep. 

nmewn's picture

Many feel the same way about the Clinton's...here's a good one:

"Sneed hears rumbles former President Bill Clinton, who lied about his affair with White House intern Monica “That Woman” Lewinsky, may opt to publicly apologize for the abuse Lewinsky claims she’s endured since the sex scandal broke more than 15 years ago.

The rationale? To fend off critics of his wife Hillary who blame her for protecting a powerful husband who is a sexual predator. Hillary Clinton is eyeing a 2016 presidential bid."


No word yet on whether this rumored apology tour will include a stop at Lady Justice's home (to atone for committing perjury) or our house (for wagging his finger in our faces and lying into the camera).

But what difference does it make now! ;-)

Oh regional Indian's picture

And from what one learns of Mena, Cocaine, Bush, CIA, Evergreen, boys by railroad tracks.....

It is a mind-duck so far out that it becomes impossible to rationalize.

And so we have the family....whew....Foster, Whitewater, Rose LAw firm, web hubble....

Arkansas State Prison Blood HIV scandal for France, Japan and India especially....but world over....

And this is a candidate.... and an ossified penis to whom th eworld still doles out loads of disaster relief monies........


By the way Nm, what is the residual impact of Deepwater Horizon on life in your area? Business as usual again?



nmewn's picture

Yes, this is an entirely new level of cynical behavior on the Clinton's part (if true). Never before has a president abused his position on a subordinate and then his wife comes along & abuses the subordinate yet again in order to attain the presidency.

Its really quite remarkable...lol.

Yeah, everythings fine here, my part of Fla didn't get any of the spill and from what I can tell everything is back to normal. The seafood is fine, I eat it. It sucked for the people who depend on the gulf (fishermen-tourism) but its over.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Oh cool, good to know. I thought you were in Bobby Jindal country :-) 

As for the rest....these are those times, that they spoke of, high wierdness abounds.


Tall Tom's picture

You make your own destiny!


And you can become President of the United Flakes...


Circumstances and environment have nothing to do with it whatsoever.


That comment was as lame, superficial and as shallow as this entire article.


Wow. I am so impressed.


What a waste of fucking time.

Oh regional Indian's picture

United Flakes..... Classic Tall Tom, original?

Consider it now a part of the vengeful lexicon...

These United Flakes.....never crumble!

lakecity55's picture

This proves he came from a test tube of common household chemicals.

ParkAveFlasher's picture

Fredo was the oldest Corleone.  What about him?

CheapBastard's picture

mmmm....Trust Fund babies seem to be successful no matter when they were born.

I respect research, but some of it simply does not make sense and is very biased. Like the artile yesterday blaming poverty for obesity. [Hint: It's caused by eating too much].

People try to blame any and every thing for their failures or weaknesses...but seldom say, "It's my Fault." That accountability has disappeared from the top down. You don't see it on Wall Street, in CEO offices, Congress and now seldom see it on Main Street.

Bastiat's picture

Define "successful" -- most of the trust fund babies I've known were losers on a personal level.  I honesty feel sorry for most of them.

cynicalskeptic's picture

If they sit on their ass while the hired help manages their money, then they they are 'successful'.  

Most trust fund types that manage their own money manage to go broke fast.

SAT 800's picture

You don't see it on Zero Hedge either; where people post comments with "artile" in them. Spell Check exists, and it works fairly well; all you need is enough self-respect to make sure you write up to your actual literacy standard. In other words; be responsible.

toady's picture

Sonny was first. Fredo was second

Plus they're fictional.

Jerk_Store's picture

Fredo was the middle child. Sonny was the first.

disabledvet's picture

Exactly. "Psychologically speaking anything is true." You just have to look at the results and make it conform to your theories.

It's all good.

In the meantime...

sleigher's picture

Kinda like that global warming/climate change debate everyone is so fond of.  We have known the answer for some time now.  


Gringo Viejo's picture

"my mother has a mustache, my father wears a dress, 

geez look Krumpke, no wonder I'm a mess,

Hey Officer Krumpke, the kid is a slob,

all he really needs is a good honest job,

Hey Officer Krumpke, you did it again,

can't ya see the kid needs a year in the pen."


"Officer Krumpke"........song from West Side Story













Colonel Klink's picture

Reptillian like they are.

NotApplicable's picture

I also wonder what the social effects are upon kids being in age-sequestered herds in school, rather than the ole one-room schoolhouse where older children tutored/mentored younger children?

knukles's picture

Much better for the progressive programming machine.
Factory smooth production

Anusocracy's picture

Did they control for cuckolding?

Matt's picture

How does that impact birth order?

Anusocracy's picture

Different fathers, different behaviors.

TruthInSunshine's picture

"COPS: Baby mamas teamed up to ambush, assault father of their

"Baby Mamas In Tag-Team Taser Assault Of Daddy
Victim said women were angry he had new girlfriend"

--"A South Carolina man was pummeled and tased yesterday afternoon by his “baby’s mama” and his “other baby’s mama,” who teamed up to ambush and assault the father of their children since he “has a new girlfriend,” cops report.

According to a Spartanburg Police Department report, Rodrick Tucker, 21, told officers that Tabitha Martin, 23, invited him to her apartment Tuesday. Tucker, who described Martin as his “baby’s mama,” added that when he arrived at the residence, Martin invited him into the bedroom.

Tucker told police that “once he was lying on the bed” in Martin’s apartment, Courtney Littlejohn--his “other baby’s mama”--entered the bedroom. Tucker, who was likely expecting an afternoon delight, quickly became the target of a tag-team attack.

The women, Tucker told police, yanked him off the bed and began “repeatedly punching him in the face and head.” After escaping the bedroom, Tucker said he was “again knocked to the floor.” He added that Littlejohn, 23, “sat on top of him, not allowing him to get up.”

Martin (left) and Littlejohn are pictured above.

Tucker said that “both females began to tase him several times with a stun-gun.” After again freeing himself from the pair’s clutches, Tucker said that he “picked up his baby, thinking the ladies would stop attacking him” while he was holding the small human shield.

That was a miscalculation on Tucker’s part.

The women, he said, “continued to swing at him until he finally gave the baby to Ms. Martin,” police reported. Tucker, who fled the home after handing over the baby, told cops that he believed Martin and Littlejohn “were mad at him because he has a new girlfriend.”

A check of Tucker’s Facebook page reveals a May 1 update indicating that he is now in a new romantic relationship. Tucker (seen at left) lists his occupation as “Certified Sex Specialist” in the “About” section of his Facebook page.

Along with taking Tucker’s statement, police photographed his “injuries and torn clothing.” Cops, who unsuccessfully attempted to contact Martin and Littlejohn in connection with the assault case, noted that the police report and evidence will be presented to a judge."

5/7 UPDATE: Littlejohn was arrested today at 11 AM on a domestic violence charge and booked into the county jail, where bond has not been set. Click here for her mug shot.

5/7 UPDATE II: Martin was booked into jail just before 6 PM today on a domestic violence charge (for which bond has not been set). Click here to view her mug shot.


disabledvet's picture

Wow. South Carolina.

Who knew?

UselessEater's picture

Damn I avoid teevee & gossip but read the whole post by TIS.

Need a shower and a good book.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Seriously, I know that dirty feeling.

10+ years of no TV will do that to you....

It brings back flashes of my watching Jerry Springer, Open mouthed, when I first came to America in 1995....

You simply cannot un-see some things....

Or take back that lost time...



daveO's picture

I think most kids want to be around older kids, so they can learn more. They are 'dumb-downed' in the current system. When I was a kid, I constantly hung around older kids when I could. Sometimes they'd bully me, but it was still better. When the bullying's not hateful, it's not a problem. The whole class structure was created to give more teachers jobs, like middle schools where adminstrators get in on the gravy train, too. When I was in 7&8th grades, they moved those two grades from the Elementary to the High School building. We went from being 'top of the totem' to being 'bottom of the totem'. That was more educational than the whole 8th grade academic year.

shovelhead's picture

We did it for the cigarettes and beer.

Might even get in a titty squeeze or two if the gals got drunk enough.

sleigher's picture

These days the middle schools went from having music, arts, and sports programs to having 6 vice principals.  2 for each of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade.  We had 1 VP in middle and high school.  I wonder how many assistant to the VP's there are?  Certainly that is a $60k+ a year job...

Brutlstrudl's picture

My family moved a lot. I went to 6 different schools in 12 years. After  a few of them I started noticing I ran into the same people and the same problems . I learned early on which problems were mine and which needed a punch in the face.

HardAssets's picture

@Brutlstrudl - military family ?

I went through the same thing. Army brat.

No problems with military post schools, since all the kids went through the same thing. It could be challenging when going to a civilian school though.

UselessEater's picture

I wasn't an army brat but went through quite a few schools in different countries; some local some international schools depending on our luck (hardship years).

Its odd running into the "same" people... like typecasts. Worst a teacher who teaches from an accepted PR text book.

I was kicked out of class for correcting a Aussie teacher that we did not have slaves or apartheid in Rhodesia but paid servants like Tembo who was kinda awesome, just wanted his extra sixpence for the clap med.

Most teachers can't find their way out of a paper bag without govt guidance.

HardAssets's picture

One of the best ways to learn something well is having to teach it to others.

That was one of the many benefits of the old one room school house. Older kids helped the younger ones with their lessons.

When you look at old lessons and tests from a prior age , they make the people of today look like morons by comparison.

A century of private foundation transformation of 'education' has done its job well.

Tompooz's picture

NA, I logged in to upvote you for that.  It might also be very enlightening to see the social and academic effects of keeping your children out of pre-school and giving them more time with their parents at that age.     

HardAssets's picture

The article is right on the money when it comes to our family.

logicalman's picture

Not sure about opposite, but my two go against this.

First born is the rebel artist.

Second is the coldly logical one.

I'm an only - product of an anarchist artist and a socialist mathematician.