A new economic study shows how your birth order can influence your career

2017/4/21 17:00:10

Penelope Ghartey jokes with his brother at their home in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., December 13, 2016.


REUTERS/Brendan McDermid - RTX2W55J










By Sandra E. Black for Brookings Brief, April 19, 2017


Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in Quartz on April 19, 2017.


For decades, psychologists and sociologists have studied the ways in which children’s birth order may affect their personalities. Perhaps surprisingly, economists are interested in that question too—particularly in terms of how birth order may influence the skills we develop in childhood, and the professional decisions we make later on.


In my new research with Erik Gronqvist and Bjorn Ockert, at the Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy in Sweden, we find that first-born children have a lot of advantages. My prior work using data from Norway has shown that, even within the same family, younger siblings have lower educational attainment, lower earnings, lower IQ, and generally worse health outcomes compared to their older siblings. Our new study finds that first-born kids also have the upper hand when it comes to personality characteristics and career achievements down the line.



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