Second-born children are 'naughtier' than their older siblings, says research

Your first-born child is much better-behaved than your second, according to a global study of thousands of families.

According to the research, led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist, Joseph Doyle, second-born children are more likely to exhibit a rebellious streak in their personality and be 'naughtier' as they grow up.

And that’s particularly true if your second-born child is a boy.

Second-born boys are more likely to be suspended from school and even end up behind bars, according to the research.

toddler writing on wall with crayon and looking at camera

Professor Doyle told NPR, "I find the results to be remarkable that the second-born children, compared to their older siblings, are much more likely to end up in prison, much more likely to get suspended in school, enter juvenile delinquency.”

But the study suggests this isn’t the fault of the parents, the kids are simply learning behaviour from their older siblings!

"The first-born has role models, who are adults. And the second, later-born children have role models who are slightly irrational two-year-olds, you know, their older siblings," said Doyle who studied thousands of families in Denmark and Florida.

“Despite large differences in environments across the two areas, we find remarkably consistent results. In families with two or more children, second-born boys are on the order of 20 to 40% more likely to be disciplined in school and enter the criminal justice system compared to first-born boys even when we compare siblings,” the study reads.

However, it's not all bad news for the second-born generations. Scientists at Cambridge University have found that the younger children in a family are more out-going and have better social skills so often end up being popular in life.

Dr Claire Hughes, from Cambridge University’s Newnham College, said, “Second siblings do better in our tests and children who have better social understanding go on to be more popular in later life.

“The traditional view has been that having a brother or sister leads to a lot of competition for parents' attention and love.

“In fact, the balance of our evidence suggests that children's social understanding may be accelerated by their interaction with siblings in many cases.”

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