I've seen number of articles telling about the fact that firstborns are more likely to have higher IQ than their sibilings.


  1. Research Finds Firstborns Gain the Higher I.Q.,
  2. Study: Older Siblings Have Higher IQs,
  3. First-borns 'really do have a a higher IQ'.

Is that true?

  • As a first born, I'd say the answer is: no. Jun 9, 2014 at 9:16
  • 4
    ...I mean YES!! Jun 9, 2014 at 9:17
  • 1
    Better question: is the IQ a reasonable way of expressing intelligence with all its facets? ;) ... still +1 Jun 12, 2014 at 18:15

1 Answer 1


Birth order does not influence IQ but social rank in the family does.

Birth order is not associated with intelligence in between-family data once the number of siblings is statistically controlled. The analyses support the admixture hypothesis, which avers that the apparent birth-order effect on intelligence is an artifact of family size, and cast doubt on the confluence and resource dilution models, both of which claim that birth order has a causal influence on children's cognitive development. The analyses suggest that birth order has no genuine causal effect on general intelligence. [1]

It appears that although low-IQ parents have been making large families, large families do not make low-IQ children in modern U.S. society. The apparent relation between birth order and intelligence has been a methodological illusion. [2]

One family of hypotheses suggests that the relation between birth order and intelligence is due to more-favorable family interaction and stimulation of low-birth-order children, whereas others claim that the effect is caused by prenatal gestational factors. We show that intelligence quotient (IQ) score levels among nearly 250,000 military conscripts were dependent on social rank in the family and not on birth order as such, providing support for a family interaction explanation. [3]


  1. Kanazawa S. Intelligence, birth order, and family size. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 2012 Sep;38(9):1157-64. doi: 10.1177/0146167212445911. PubMed PMID: 22581677.
  2. Rodgers JL, Cleveland HH, van den Oord E, Rowe DC. Resolving the debate over birth order, family size, and intelligence. Am Psychol 2000 Jun;55(6):599-612. PubMed PMID: 10892201.
  3. Kristensen P, Bjerkedal T. Explaining the relation between birth order and intelligence. Science 2007 Jun;316(5832):1717. doi: 10.1126/science.1141493. PubMed PMID: 17588924.
  • 1
    What is the answer then?
    – user5582
    Jun 8, 2014 at 0:19
  • 1
    @Articuno: I doubt there is much of a conclusion to be found here (beyond "inconclusive"). Jun 8, 2014 at 0:24
  • 1
    @Articuno: I am reading the conclusion as "Yes, there is correlation. No, there is not causation, due to a confounding factor."
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 13, 2014 at 2:30

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