A recent study by performed by Joseph Doyle, MIT economist, shows that the ‘middle child’ or second-born child has a higher risk of being a troublemaker. It shows that specifically sons are 25% to 40% more likely to cause trouble than that of daughters. Not every single middle child is affected by this “curse,” but the chance is still there.
Researchers have found that first-borns generally do better in school, have higher IQs, and can even earn higher wages in the workplace. This is because first-borns have two adults to follow, mom and dad. The middle child by default follows their 2-year-old older sibling. What could possibly go wrong with that? Oh, everything.
The family data set consisted of thousands of sets of brothers from both the United States and Europe. Doyle elaborated on his findings, saying, “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 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.”
The study suggests that the trouble the middle child can get in can consist of school trouble or even getting in trouble with the law in later stages. Doyle stresses the importance of remembering that the study painted a very broad picture of families and behavior.
Doyle additionally states that it’s important to consider the second child’s upbringing a bit more so that they don’t follow suit of their older sibling, but instead follow the guidance of their parents to avoid later issues.
In addition to considering the middle child’s upbringing, Doyle suggests keeping a watchful eye over them especially as they enter the age in which they are surrounded by other influences and can understand the power they have. This treatment, in turn, may help put the second child on the right path to a trouble-free life.
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