According to a popular family mythology, second children get away with murder but maybe that’s just because we’re more likely to make trouble.
Leaving family jokes aside, it seems that the second-born kids might be the Black Sheep compared to older siblings. They are more trouble and likely to go to prison, get suspended in school and enter juvenile delinquency.
A report from MIT economist, Joseph Doyle notes that the “curse of a second-born child” might be true. The younger siblings tend to be trouble-makers and rule-breakers.
Doyle, using rich data sets from Florida and Denmark, examined whether birth order has any negative impact on the lifestyle of the siblings. The results are “remarkably consistent” and in families with more children, the second-born boys are 20-40 percent more likely to enter criminal justice or disciplined in school compared to the first-born child.
Doyle told the radio station, NPR:
“I find the results to be remarkable that the 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.”
Offering one explanation for his findings, Doyle added:
“The firstborn has role models, who are adults. And the second, later-born children have role models who are slightly irrational 2-year-olds, you know, their older siblings.
“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.”
Also the time investment is higher for the first-borns at the age of two to four and that suggests that second-born kids do not get the same level of time commitment.
Note: These findings are not representative of individual families and their relationships but reflect a trend.