Every wonder whether your birth order has some impact on your achievements and what you have been able to accomplish, career- and life-wise? Well, wonder no more, young one. Science has the answer:
What do Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, Christine Lagarde, Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, JK Rowling and Beyoncé have in common? Other than riding high in Forbes list of the world’s most powerful women, they are also all firstborn children in their families. Turn to British science and one finds Dame Jane Goodall, Dr Susan Greenfield and Jocelyn Bell Burnell, also firstborn children.
Now such anecdotal evidence of firstborn high achievement has been borne out by research. A groundbreaking study, by Feifei Bu at the Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, appears to show that, if you are the eldest child and female, you are statistically more likely to be the most ambitious and well-qualified of all your family.
The effect is even stronger for girls than for boys. First-born boys are also more achieving, but proportionately less so: “Next in line for success come firstborn boys – all 12 men to have walked on the moon were either eldest or only children.” The article doesn’t speculate why the effect is stronger for girls. Perhaps they are more conditioned to be pleasers and make their parents happy by exceeding expectations? Regardless, here are the numbers: