Finally, I have proof that my troublemaking son was born that way. This week, an MIT economist released the results from a study that explored birth order in relation to childhood delinquency — and they shouldn’t surprise anyone who has more than one child. Turns out science says second-born kids are more likely to be the troublemakers.
The Science of Troublemaking
Joseph Doyle, the economist from MIT, and his colleagues studied thousands of families from Denmark and Florida that had two or more kids where the second-born child was a boy. Their data showed that second-born kids are 25 to 40 percent more likely to get into serious trouble at school or with the law than their older siblings. That is a staggering number.
The possible explanations for this make sense. As Doyle told 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.” Oh yeah. My daughter was a real piece of work when she was a toddler. So does this mean when my son gets in trouble, he can blame it on his older sister’s bad example? Not exactly, said Doyle.
“Both the parental investments are different, and the sibling influences probably contribute to these differences.”
Oh. So it’s MY fault that I have to divide my attention between more than one kid? That maybe I was completely enamored with every little thing my daughter did when she was little, but when my son was small I was too exhausted? And now I’m just trying to survive while two kids run circles around me? Thanks for throwing me under the bus, Doyle.
Of course, the researchers are quick to note that this is broad information, and just because you have a second-born son doesn’t mean he’ll grow into an ax murderer. But, you may want to keep a closer eye on him…just in case.
(Image: iStock / GeorgeRudy)