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Earlier-Born Children Better Students: Study

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"More intense parental monitoring regarding homework" is one the key factors at play.

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For their new paper, "Strategic Parenting, Birth Order and School Performance," V. Joseph Hotz and Juan Pantano studied all children born to the female respondents in the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Released recently by the National Bureau for Economic Research, the evidence gathered by Hotz and Pantano found that earlier-born children outperformed their later-born siblings in school.

"On average, mothers with two children were almost 8% less likely to say that their second child was one of the best in his class," they write. "Earlier-born children also had higher scores on the Peabody Individual Achievement Test and the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test at age 10. The effects of birth order persisted for second children even when the sample was restricted to 'intact' families in which children's performance had not been affected by divorce or other family disruptions."

Why? Hotz and Pantano say earlier-born kids are more likely to be "subject to rules about TV watching and to face more intense parental monitoring regarding homework" and that "mothers are more likely to report that they would increase the supervision of one of their children in the event that child brought home a worse-than-expected report card when the child in question was one of her earlier-born children."

Other studies have shown that firstborn children tend to have more success in business and seem to be more likely to become CEOs. Likewise, Hotz and Pantano found that earlier-born children tend to accumulate more wealth over their lifetimes.

Future parents, the smart money says skip the first child altogether, and start with number two.

Twitter: @Minyanville

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