Why Second-Born Boys Are Often Troublesome… Here’s The Science Behind It

Do you have a younger brother? Does he always get in trouble? Well, there might be some science behind that.

According to a report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, second-born boys are more likely than first-borns to behave badly, which could be why you from time to time consider your younger sibling a demon spawn.

The report, which studied thousands of sibling pairs across in both Denmark and Florida, found second-born boys are 20-40% more likely to have behavioral issues. They’re more likely to be disciplined in school, and even to end up in the criminal justice system than their older siblings. While this may not necessarily be news to older siblings, if you’re the second-born child you may want to have a little chat with your parents: the reason second-born siblings may be worse behaved than first-borns is because parents tend to pay less attention to them.

“We consider differences in parental attention as a potential contributing factor to the gaps in delinquency across the birth order,” the report says. “Second-born children tend to have less maternal attention than do their older siblings because first-born children experience their mother’s maternity leaves and temporarily reduced labor market participation both following their own births as well as following the birth of the second-born.”

But, before you run to your mom with this information, and before you older siblings get too smug, older siblings may also be to blame.

“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,” Joseph Doyle, one of the report authors, 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.”

So next time your parents punish all of the kids for something just one of you did, keep this in mind.

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