Previously, studies have shown that birth order can influence your health as well as your job. But MIT economist Joseph Doyle and his team claim that second-born children are also more likely to misbehave. After looking at data on thousands of sets of brothers in both the U.S. and Europe, they found that the second-born boys got in trouble 20 to 40 percent more often as children and adults. The second child often received more discipline and suspensions in school. And as adults, they were more likely to be arrested and imprisoned than their older siblings, too.
This difference in sibling behavior could come down to parenting style, according to NPR. While the first-born might receive their parents’ undivided attention, the younger siblings must compete for the spotlight. Plus, the results say quite a bit about the power of role models.
“The firstborn 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,” Doyle told NPR. “Both the parental investments are different, and the sibling influences probably contribute to these differences we see in the 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.”
Guess your birth order might matter more than you originally thought. If you’re a second-born child, though, chin up! This research doesn’t guarantee a lifetime of rebellion. In fact, there are some pretty awesome underrated powers of middle children (and that should definitely make you proud.)