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20 First-Born Child Facts & Statistics Worth Knowing

Discover the unique ways the first-born status shapes a child's development and personality traits.

Discover how birth order, particularly being the first-born, significantly shapes a child’s life. From becoming exemplary role models to fulfilling high family expectations, the journey of a first-born is unique and compelling.

In this article, you’ll uncover 20 essential first-born children facts and statistics, delving into their character, psychological makeup, and the expectations set upon them. Whether you’re a parent or simply interested in child development, this fun insight into the world of first-borns offers valuable understanding.

Key Facts About Older Siblings

Whether you were born first, are curious about your own eldest child, or simply want to know more about birth order, here are five must-know older sibling facts:

  1. First-born children are less likely to use drugs and alcohol.
  2. Eldest siblings are very conscientious due to having younger siblings to nurture.
  3. First-born children are more likely to be managers in careers.
  4. Eldest children are more likely to be astronauts or presidents.
  5. Parents have high expectations of their first-born children, which can lead to more psychological burdens.

20 First-Born Child Facts and Statistics

We’re going to walk through 20 interesting facts about first-born children, including their personality traits, psychology, and family expectations.

Characteristics of First-Born Children

Do first-born children share similar characteristics with one another? Is first-born syndrome real? Let’s look at what the data has to say.

  1. First-borns are more egotistical: Oldest children are likelier to have a superego (1).
  2. They’re less likely to use substances: First-born children are less likely to use drugs and alcohol compared to their siblings (2).
  3. Better academic success: First-born children are more likely to perform better in school, and they have a higher chance of becoming leaders (3).
  4. Goal-orientated and stubborn: Due to the way first-born children are raised and nurtured, they end up being more goal-oriented, opinionated, stubborn, and independent (4).
  5. They’re very conscientious: When a first-born child gets a younger sibling, they become conscientious since they must help nurture their younger sibling. They often get involved in feeding, soothing, and playing with them.
  6. They don’t mess with the status quo: Studies have found that first-born children (and only children) are less likely to challenge the status quo (5). Instead, they align more with their parents’ or guardians’ opinions and thoughts.
  7. Higher IQ: The myth that first-born male and female children are the smart ones may be true. Eldest children have a 52 percent chance of having a higher IQ than second-born children (6).

Psychology Facts About First-Born Children

Let’s delve into these seven incredible facts about first-born children’s psychology, achievements, and success, exploring some of the differences between eldest kids and their siblings.

  1. They have a higher chance of success: Due to first-born children getting more attention from parents and financial support, they have a higher chance of furthering their careers (7).
  2. More likely to be managers: One study found that first-born children were more likely to be managers, whereas their younger siblings were more likely to be self-employed (8).
  3. Birth order might not affect success: Despite many studies pointing to the fact that birth order does affect success, a newer study found no evidence that linked birth order with specific careers (9). This same study also found no links between birth order and characteristics such as agreeableness, conscientiousness, and imagination.
  4. Filled with fear: First-born children have a more significant problem with fear, and they tend to avoid dangerous sports (10). They are more scared of pain compared to their younger siblings.
  5. Higher educational attainment: First-borns are found to have higher educational attainment than second and third-born children (11). They are also likely to earn more money and get full-time employment.
  6. Career paths: The majority of astronauts, presidents, and students at Harvard are first-born or only children (12).

Family Expectations of First-Borns

Being born first can be a real challenge, especially when parents put excess pressure and expectations on the child. Let’s look at six facts about family expectations and traditional roles placed on first-born children.

  1. Expectations on older children when they become siblings: When the first-born becomes an older sibling, many families expect the older child to be mature, be a good role model, and help take care of the new sibling (13).
  2. Adverse effects of expectations: This study found that the higher the parents’ expectations, the more likely the first-born child would be to snatch toys from their siblings.
  3. Increased psychological burden: Unreasonably high expectations can increase the psychological burden on first-born children, leading to a negative perception of self.
  4. What first-born daughters have to say: First-born daughters have taken to the internet to describe the heavy burden of being the eldest (14). They report feeling responsible for the family’s happiness and the pressure to succeed.
  5. There are higher expectations for first-borns: One study found that parents have higher aspirations for their first-born children than younger siblings (15). Thus, first-borns are likelier to express higher academic goals than later-born children.
  6. First-borns are more celebrated: Parents generally get more excited about the achievement of their first-born, compared to later children (16). The first-born then learns how to make their parents happy, leading to a more significant desire to succeed academically.
  7. First-borns are more anxious: Studies have found that first-born children experience more anxiety than younger siblings (17). Another study found that first-born children have more dependency behavior due to inconsistent nurturing from parents. It’s hypothesized that these two facts link together, contributing to anxiety in first-borns.

How Does Birth Order Affect Child Development?

Birth order theory is a hypothesis that was put forward in the early 1900s by Alfred Adler, an Austrian doctor. He theorized that children in the same family have different developmental outcomes and experiences based on whether they were born first, in the middle, or last.

His famous theory for first-born children was that they:

  • Got more attention.
  • Enjoyed adult company better.
  • Had more mature language.
  • Were the rival of one parent.
  • Had trouble sharing.
  • Were overprotected.
  • Were spoiled.

However, extensive research over the decades into Adler’s Birth Order Theory shows mixed results, not fully substantiating all his predictions. On the other hand, concrete data shows that being born first has significantly similar effects on eldest children.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a Scottish freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. She is a mum to a young boy, and believes that it truly takes a village. When she’s not parenting, writing about parenting, or working, she can be found reading, working on her novel, taking photos, playing board games or wandering through the countryside with her family.