Birth order is incredibly interesting. Studies that concentrate on the traits of individuals based on their birth order are often shared among friends and family members who can recognize themselves or a sibling in study findings.
Older siblings, who are often found to be the smartest, will no doubt love to share the results of this recent finding with their younger siblings. According to a report by Joseph Doyle, an MIT economist, second born children, and especially boys, are more likely to get in trouble than their elder brothers.
The study looked at data recorded of thousands of sets of brothers from the state of Florida and the country of Denmark. Doyle focused on brothers because their upbringing would tend to be similar, NRP reports.
Doyle spoke to NPR about his shock at his findings. "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. Across all these outcomes, we're getting 25 to 40 percent increases in the likelihood of these outcomes just by comparing a second-born sibling compared to a first-born."
While Doyle does admit that it's only a small segment of these children who are getting in serious trouble, the there is a "sizeable difference" between those who are first born and those who are second born boys.
He says part of the reason is due to firstborns receiving more attention when they're born. Basically he said that the oldest child has his parents as his main role model, which a second child has a "slightly irrational 2-year-olds, you know, their older siblings," who are their primary role models. "Both the parental investments are different, and the sibling influences probably contribute to these differences we see in labor market and what we find in delinquency. It's just very difficult to separate those two things because they happen at the same time."
Add this to the recent survey that found youngest children are favorites among parents, and there may be some discrepancy with what to believe when reading a study like this. While the study certainly does give an older sibling some fodder for teasing their younger sibling, this doesn't mean that a younger brother is doomed to a life of crime. It's simply pointing out that in sets of brothers, the younger son tends to find himself in more trouble than the older brother.
Something I'm sure all older brothers out there will be quick to point out.