First Borns Smarter, But Not Sexier?

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A new Norwegian study suggests that first-borns average a whole 3 IQ points higher than their later born siblings.

On average, firstborn males had an IQ of roughly 103.2, whereas the second-born child scored about 100.4 and third-borns 99. When the duo accounted for social rank, however, it turned out actual birth order may not be the key to intelligence.

On the other hand, first-borns may be retarded in other areas of life. In his op/ed today (hidden behind the TimeSelect veil of secrecy), David Brooks cites a New Zealand study (which I couldn't scare up) that finds:

"First borns are twice as likely to be virgins at 21 than later-born children."

Proving once again that babes don't necessarily find brains all that attractive. 

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  1. Because smart people are more likely to stay alone because a relationship may interfere with school.

  2. Wouldn’t the social thing just be that the firstborns have no older sibling to learn from, and have to learn a lot on their own, while later-borns have that older sibling as a mentor and example?

  3. *coughs*

    *looks around for Shem*

  4. I read somewhere (I’m inclined to guess it was Stephen Levitt but I can’t be sure) that older siblings are more likely to be conservative and younger siblings are more likely to embrace newer, more wild ideas. Perhaps the older children simply are simply more likely to choose not to have sex.

    For what it’s worth, I’m the fourth of nine siblings, so I’m not really biased here.

  5. Proving once again that babes don’t necessarily find brains all that attractive.

    Sure they do. If you’re also good-looking. 😉

  6. This study is objectively pro-Big Brother!

  7. “Proving once again that babes don’t necessarily find brains all that attractive.”

    Half of all first born are women.

  8. T. I vote that you’ve won the thread now. Have a great weekend.

  9. sam_h: Good point, but the Norwegian study was of first born boys. I don’t know what the gender break down of the New Zealand study was.

  10. Speaking as an only child; I knew it!

  11. Hey, I’m #4 of 6, and I know I’m the smartest one. 😉

  12. So, um, where’s the famous Bailey Disclaimer stating where you stand among your siblings?

  13. I’m a firstborn male, and I can’t disagree with anything that has been said so far. Dammit.

  14. This study is objectively pro-Big Brother!

    Dude, seriously the younger brothers got the long end of that stick. Or the big piece of the pie as it were.

    Really any metaphor here is going to sound like innuendo, but either way I’m happy to relinquish 3 IQ points, under the circumstances.

  15. Glad you liked it, Ron, but if I could do it all over I’d say:

    These researchers are just paid shills for Big Brother!

  16. And Ron himself is a longtime shill for Big Birth Order.

  17. I’m the oldest sibling in my family and the smartest.

    I bet that makes you wonder if my brothers and sister can feed and dress themselves, huh?

  18. “First borns are twice as likely to be virgins at 21 than later-born children.”

    First borns are twice as likely to be closely watched by their parents than later-born children.

    Plus, the first words out of my little brother’s mouth were, “But you let Larry do it!”

  19. First borns are twice as likely to be closely watched by their parents than later-born children.

    Absolutely true.

    I am the third of three sons.

    The oldest was the target of merciless supervision. Do your homework. Study harder, etc, etc. The next less so.

    With me, as long as I made my bed before I went to school and showed up in time for dinner I was left almost completely alone.

    Both my brothers resented my permissive upbringing.

    I’ve always suspected that after the first two brats Ma and Pa Bartram were just too tired to bother with young Isaac.

    Mind you, I never had a new suit of clothes until I bought my own with my own money. Such is the life of a youngest child that he spends his life in hand-me-down clothes.

  20. I don’t know what the gender sex break down of the New Zealand study was.

    I heard drinking was more of a problem down there. Ba-dum-bum.

  21. Mind you, I never had a new suit of clothes until I bought my own with my own money. Such is the life of a youngest child that he spends his life in hand-me-down clothes.

    Lucky for you your siblings weren’t girls.

  22. Lucky for you your siblings weren’t girls.

    Ridgely, I’ll have you know, with my parents it wouldn’t have mattered.

    Except I must confess, I don’t remember ever having to wear a dress.

    But, then again, think of the Tasmanian question :”What is the definition of a Tasmanian boy who is a virgin?”:

    Answer: “A boy with an ugly sister.”

    Perhaps what I really need to be thankful for is that with two older brothers I was not a pretty boy.

  23. I think this is because the first-born enters into an adult world in the house, and the second child enters into a kids world in the house. At least that is what I observed in my own home.

  24. First borns are twice as likely to be virgins at 21 than later-born children.

    I don’t doubt it, but what are the actual numbers here? After all, 2% is twice 1%, but isn’t really much of a difference in likelihood.

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