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My wife just hit her third trimester. With only a couple months left, she is excited to be in the final stretch of her pregnancy. When pregnant with our first child, my wife craved junk food. She was ravenous. One time, she literally ate two Whoppers back-to-back. I can’t make this stuff up.
It wasn’t until recently that I learned about her fast-food addiction at that time. She had paid for most of in cash, so I really had no idea. When I found out, I was flabbergasted. She has always been such a stickler for good nutrition. But, I’ve learned that pregnancy cravings are real.
In her current pregnancy, my wife craves healthy food. It is the polar opposite of her first experience. She loves eating fruits and vegetables. She has only had fast food once, and that was in her first trimester. We are having another boy, so we are assuming he will just be a different kid since the pregnancy is so different!
That got me thinking. Each child has their unique differences. But I wondered– how important is birth order in regards to pay or career success? Short answer from my research is a resounding very important.
Full disclosure: I am a first-born. Accordingly, I couldn’t wait to delve into this research. Overall, it seemed pretty accurate compared to my life. So I’ll be curious to hear how it is applicable to everyone else’s as well.
First-Born Jobs & Pay
First-born sons are more likely than their siblings to achieve top managerial positions, such as CEO. In addition, first-born sons are also more likely to score higher on personality tests designed to understand their leadership ability. It makes sense. They receive firsthand experience at home at leadership when interacting with younger siblings. The leadership role that they have in their household later evolves into strong leadership in the workplace.
Not surprisingly, first-born children are the most likely of their siblings to earn six figures. On average, first-born sons earn 1.2% more than the second son, and about 2.8% more than third son.
First-born daughters earn about 4.2% more than second-borns, and about 6.6% more than third-borns. In fact, research that shows first-born children, on average, have IQs that are three points higher than second-born children.
First-Borns and Money
Jerry Linebaugh, II, founder and CEO of JLine Financial says, “Firstborns handle money differently… They are viciously protective of making sure bills are paid on time and living within their means, which includes building savings and investments.”
Dr. Soroya Bacchus, a triple board-certified psychiatrist based in Los Angeles, claims that first-born children are “the most punctual about paying bills because they love to be seen as stable and dependable. They won’t let financial details like payment due dates and avoiding unnecessary over-the-limit fees fall through the cracks.”
Bacchus continues that first-born children are incredibly organized and as a result, “keep their finances in order.”
As a first-born child, I can definitely say “guilty” in this area. 🙂
In a paper written by Professors John Gilliam and Swarn Chatterjee, they found that first-born children are typically more conservative with their finances and much more risk-averse than their siblings. They claim, “Firstborns are less likely than the later-borns to have a majority of their portfolios allocated in stock.”
Researcher Sven Michael Spira asserts in his paper, “But when they are optimistic, firstborns seem to act more on their bias in their portfolio choices. Firstborns also tend to engage more in stock picking.”
As my committed readers know, I advocate for a portfolio of passive index funds over selecting individual stocks.
Finally, being first-born also means that you are more likely to be a perfectionist. Depending on how you look at it, this can be a positive or negative attribute. Derrick Kinney, a financial advisor with Ameriprise, says, “More often than not, being a perfectionist leads to burnout and giving up or setting unrealistic financial goals. That may sabotage your finances.”
First-Borns and Occupations
First-borns can be found most commonly in jobs within the government, information technology, engineering, and science fields.
Interestingly, boys with older sisters tend to behave more like first-born sons, showing greater leadership traits than those who have older brothers for siblings. In a similar vein, my wife was a middle-born child, but since her older sister has special needs, my wife exhibited more of the first-born attributes.
Middle-Born Jobs & Pay
Research shows that middle-born children are the most likely to hold entry-level jobs and on average earn less than $35,000 than their first-born siblings.
Middle-Born Familial Relations
Ben Dattner, an adjunct professor at NYU suggests, “First-born siblings have an incentive to adapt to the family environment they were born into. There’s a niche in the family for the first-born sibling to be a culture carrier — an open slot for the position of good-family citizen. Second-born children are born into a family in which somebody has already occupied the position of good student, good kid, carrier of a parent’s values.”
According to marriage and family therapist Lisa Bahar, “Middle children may fly under the radar screen at times and are more flexible, more apt to be open, take the centered approach, and sometimes (are) more balanced with money.”
Middle-born children may experience a bit of neglect along the way. So is there any upside for them?
“Middle children are inventive, natural problem-solvers. They grow up thinking they can handle anything themselves, including money problems,” says Dr. Bacchus.
According to Business News Daily, middle-born children are innate savers, with almost 65% of the them contributing money to their savings accounts each month.
Middle-born children are typically the peacekeepers in the family. As a result, they are most likely able to get along with everyone, which is a great skill to have in the workforce. It should be no surprise than that middle children often go into law enforcement, firefighting, construction, education, and personal care.
I always remember thinking that my parents were much more lenient on my sister in comparison to me. I’m sure many older sibling feels that way. But it’s true! According to a recent Yahoo Health article, parents have a habit of spoiling and coddling the youngest children in families.
Frank Sulloway says, “Last-borns tend to receive an undue share of parental attention because they are the most vulnerable sibling, and hence the most in need of continuing parental investment and care.”
Last-Born Free Spirits
Not surprisingly, last-born children tend to be more fun and the life of the party. They also tend to demonstrate poor spending habits and are normally the least fiscally responsible of their siblings.
They typically prioritize social events and also may tend to indulge in impulse purchases and may not budget as well.
Last-Born and Finances
Bacchus claims, “Parents often dote on the youngest children, so they’re conditioned to rely on others. They get into financial trouble because they can’t handle responsibility and may even believe someone will fix their financial problems if their parents have paid bills for them.”
According to Kinney, “A social youngest child will have problems learning to value saving long-term over the instant gratification of a social event.”
So being the youngest in the family is clearly a detriment right?
According to experts, last-born children are more likely to be interested in foreign travel and are more willing to take risks.
More often than not, last-born children are more likely to become self-employed, as they try to find their own individualized niche that differs from their siblings. They tend to have a more entrepreneurial spirit.
Sulloway says, “To be different, younger siblings will often try to find their own domain, something they are particularly good at, something that is different from an older sibling’s area of expertise.”
Those born last often go into creative fields such as art, architecture, writing, and sales.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include only children on the list. Interestingly enough, only children in many ways resemble first-born children. They are more likely to earn six figures and be top executives. However, only children did not have the same job satisfaction as those people with siblings.
In the workplace, people with siblings tend to have more positive experiences because they are proficient in teamwork. An only child, on the other hand, may be more comfortable with solo work.
On top of that, Bacchus asserts, “Like firstborns, only children are perfectionists who are generally very responsible.” Along with being perfectionists, only children also tend to desire approval from superiors and elders.
The drawback of this characteristic is that, “this could lead to trying to impress people at all costs, even if it means living beyond your means,” says Chris Dlugozima of GreenPath Financial Wellness.
Occupations of Only Children
Only children tend to gravitate towards nursing, information technology, engineering, and law enforcement.