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The Influence of Birth Order on Academic Achievement

The Influence of Birth Order on Academic Achievement


Birth order refers to the position that an individual holds among their siblings in a family. It has been a topic of interest for many researchers, psychologists, and sociologists as they seek to understand the influence it has on various aspects of an individual’s life. One particular area of focus has been the impact of birth order on academic achievement. This article aims to explore the relationship between birth order and academic achievement, taking into consideration various factors such as parental expectations, family dynamics, and personality traits.


First-born children typically receive undivided attention and resources from their parents during their early years. They enjoy a temporary status of being the only child until subsequent siblings are born. This exclusive attention often leads to an advantage in cognitive and language development, as parents have more time and energy to invest in their intellectual growth. Research suggests that first-born children tend to have higher IQ scores compared to their younger siblings (Rodgers & Rodgers, 2000).

Furthermore, parental expectations play a significant role in shaping the academic trajectories of first-borns. Parents often have higher aspirations for their first child, expecting them to set an example for their younger siblings. As a result, these children may experience more pressure to excel academically. They are also more likely to receive specialized educational opportunities, such as private tutoring or extracurricular activities, which can enhance their academic performance.

In addition, first-borns tend to exhibit more perfectionistic and conscientious traits, which may contribute to their higher academic achievement. They often assume responsibilities and strive for excellence, as they are accustomed to being the role models for their siblings. These personality traits are advantageous in an academic setting, as they promote discipline, organization, and goal-directed behavior.


Middle-born children, also known as the “middle child,” occupy a unique position within a family. They have both older and younger siblings, and their birth order often determines the extent of attention and resources they receive. Middle-borns may experience a decrease in parental attention as the family grows, as parents have to divide their time and resources among multiple children.

Research on birth order’s influence on middle-borns’ academic achievement is conflicting. Some studies suggest that middle-borns may face challenges in academic performance due to their limited access to resources and parental attention. They may also feel neglected or overshadowed by the achievements of their older and younger siblings. This sense of competition within the family may lead to decreased motivation to excel academically, affecting their achievement levels.

Conversely, other studies propose that middle-borns may benefit from their position. They often develop strong negotiation, mediation, and social skills due to their role as a bridge between older and younger siblings. These skills can translate into positive peer relationships and effective communication in educational settings. Middle-borns may also learn resilience and adaptability from dealing with the inherent complexities of sibling dynamics. These qualities can contribute to their academic success.


Last-born children are often referred to as the “babies” of the family. They experience the advantage of receiving attention from parents, who may have accumulated more resources and expertise in child-rearing by the time the last child is born. Parents may also have more relaxed attitudes towards parenting, which can create a nurturing and supportive environment for the last-born.

However, the influence of birth order on the academic achievement of last-borns is not as extensively explored as that of first-borns and middle-borns. Some researchers propose a “spoiled youngest” hypothesis, suggesting that last-borns may be at a disadvantage due to overindulgence and overprotection from their parents. This may lead to a lack of motivation or a sense of entitlement, which can negatively impact their academic performance.

On the other hand, last-borns often benefit from having older siblings as role models. They observe their siblings’ achievements and educational experiences, which can motivate and guide them in their own academic pursuits. Additionally, last-borns may receive assistance and support from their older siblings, whether in the form of academic tutoring or advice on navigating the education system.


The influence of birth order on academic achievement is a complex and multifaceted topic. First-borns tend to benefit from exclusive attention, high parental expectations, and their own personality traits. Middle-borns face challenges in receiving parental attention but may develop valuable interpersonal skills. Last-borns may be influenced by both parental indulgence and the support of older siblings. However, it is important to acknowledge that birth order is just one factor among many that shape an individual’s academic achievement. Various other environmental, social, and genetic factors also contribute significantly. Understanding birth order’s influence can provide insights for educators, parents, and policymakers in tailoring educational experiences and interventions to support students’ unique needs.

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