It's true: birth order shapes personality

by
in

There is a significant divide in the personality traits of the youngest and oldest siblings in British families

New YouGov research reveals how often-speculated differences in character between first and last born children in a family do have some basis. In short, it turns out to be true that the oldest child in a family feels a greater weight of responsibility, while the youngest child feels a higher level of breathing room.

Splitting out the first and last born siblings in British families with more than one child (86% of the population), a clear divide in personality traits emerges. The most significant difference is in feeling the burden of responsibility – most (54%) first borns say they are more responsible than their siblings, compared to 31% of last borns.

Younger siblings, on the other hand, are more likely to say they are more funny (46% compared to 36% of elder siblings), more easy going and more relaxed.

To some extent age itself, rather than family dynamics, may be responsible for the differing characteristics. Older children, having had more time to get on in life, are more likely to say they are more successful than their siblings.

But undoubtedly there are family forces at work – parental attention soon shifts onto new arrivals, and first borns may have to learn the ropes themselves. As evidence, elder siblings are more likely to feel more organised and able to prioritise their own lives. Likewise, younger siblings are more likely to feel more favoured by their parents. 

See the full poll results

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