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Second Born Are Biggest Trouble Makers, Study Finds

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Second Born Are Biggest Trouble Makers, Study Finds

We may joke that our younger siblings are the real trouble makers in the family, but it turns out there may be some truth in that.

You've all probably heard of second child syndrome - the theory that the second (or middle) child doesn't have a clear role in the family leaving them feeling 'left out' and all the negative behaviour stuff that comes with it.

Now, a new study has found that birth order does actually effect how likely we are to be badly behaved.

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The research by MIT economist Joseph Doyle and his team, found that children born second are much more likely to get suspended from school, enter juvenile delinquency and go to prison than their older siblings.

There's proof the second born sibling is more prone to being misbehaved (Credit: Unsplash)
There's proof the second born sibling is more prone to being misbehaved (Credit: Unsplash)

The social scientists accessed big data taken from two very different locations: Denmark, and the state of Florida.

Focusing on boys for the study (as they are much more likely than girls to end up in serious trouble as teenagers), they looked at thousands of different families with older and younger brothers.

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"Despite large environmental differences between the areas, we find remarkably consistent results," read the study's conclusion.

"In families with two or more children, secondborn boys are 20% - 40% more likely to be disciplined in school and enter the criminal justice system than are their firstborn male siblings."

So there you have it: secondborns are 20 to 40 per cent more likely to get into trouble. But what do the scientists point out as the causes?

Firstly, they ruled out health at birth and school quality as mechanisms for the testing, but they did find evidence for 'parental time investment' being a possible cause for the results.

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Parental time investment could be a possible cause for the second sibling's misbehaviour (Credit: Unsplash)
Parental time investment could be a possible cause for the second sibling's misbehaviour (Credit: Unsplash)

Joseph Doyle explained to NPR: "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."

The study, which was carried out in 2017 but recently posted online, is pretty groundbreaking in terms of working out why the second child may misbehave.

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Interesting, eh?

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash

Topics: Life, Real Life

Ciara Sheppard
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