Do you have younger sisters or brothers? Congratulations, you’re probably cleverer than them

Posted by
Anna Pollitt

Elder siblings, rejoice. You may have had it tough as the prototype child who endured a stricter upbringing than the squawking interloper who stole all the attention - and your toys - but science decrees you ARE cleverer than your little brother/sister.

As well as confirming that elder siblings are smarter in a 20,000-strong study, boffins at Germany's Leipzig University have good news for awkward middle kids: the IQ of each successive sibling drops by around 1.5 points per child.

So while the middle children may not be quite as intelligent as the sensible first-born, they can console themselves that they're more on the ball than the baby of the family.

Jennifer Lopez with sisters Leslie (l) and Lynda (r)

Middle child Jennifer Lopez with sisters Leslie (l) and Lynda (r)

Researchers who examined data from siblings in the UK, Germany, and the USA, believe that the difference may be down to older kids bossing teaching their younger brothers and sisters.

Lead researcher Julia Rohrer explains to Healthday: "Teaching other people has high cognitive demands - the children need to recall their own knowledge, structure it and think of a good way to explain it - which could be a boost to intelligence for some firstborns."

Younger children may also be disadvantaged by having to share their parents' attention, she said.

Venus Williams congratulates her sister Serena on the straight sets win in the fourth round, 2015 Wimbledon 6 Jul 2015

Venus Williams (l) and younger sis Serena have faced off 27 times on the tennis court

"A first-born will enjoy full parental resources, including attention, the second-born will have to share with the firstborn from the start, and it gets even worse for the third-born."

While the study backs up existing research that suggests older siblings are more intelligent, its findings contradict widely held beliefs that personality traits are also linked to birth order.

Characteristics such as extroversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience have been linked to elder, middle and younger siblings, but the Leipzig report found no evidence to back up the cliches.

Images: Rex Features

Share this article


Anna Pollitt

Anna is a freelance writer and editor who’s been making her dime from online since 2007. She’s a regular at, ITV News and Emerald Street and moonlights as a copywriter and digital content consultant. The baby is borrowed.

Related Posts