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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Firstborn children more successful than siblings, study says

A recent study suggests the firstborn child in a family is likely to be the most successful sibling, but some local students and faculty expressed hesitancy about the data.

The study, conducted by V. Joseph Hotz and Juan Pantano with the National Bureau of Economic Research, said a reason behind firstborns’ success could be that parents are stricter with them and become more lax with later-born children.

However, Rosemary Barnett, a UF professor who teaches youth development and public policy, said she has some doubts about the study.

Some of the research is based on the mother’s perceptions of the child’s academic standing, such as class ranking, rather than actual achievement measures, she wrote in an email.

The study may not look at other possible variables, “such as opportunities that parents may be able to give to the first child rather than the last child,” she said.

Still, the results weren’t surprising to 20-year-old UF criminology and sociology junior Michael Todd.

“Parents, in my experience, push the first child the most,” he said.

Todd said the nature of parenting allows for younger siblings to be compared to the firstborn.

Jenna Goldman, who is a firstborn and has younger twin sisters, said she doesn’t believe there is any less expected of her younger siblings.

Rather, she said, there just might be different expectations for the oldest child.

“I was expected to be a role model,” said the 20-year-old UF history and public science junior.

As for her younger sisters, she said she doesn’t feel her family fits the representation of the study.

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“I think they’re very successful,” Goldman said. “I think my sisters are brilliant.”

A version of this story ran on page 5 on 11/8/2013 under the headline "Firstborn children more successful than siblings, study says"

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