In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

For all you firstborns out there

I dedicate this post to my brother, Bobby.

You did have it tougher than the rest of us kids--and you now have the research to back up your claim.

A new study, published in the latest issue of the Economic Journal, confirmed what first-borns like my brother have always suspected: The oldest kid in the family really does bear the brunt of parental discipline, while the younger brothers and sisters generally coast on through.

“Parents have an incentive to play tough with their kids, especially the older ones, to try to establish this signal to the other children that they’re not a pushover,” says Joseph Hotz, an economics professor at Duke University and a co-author of the study.


When it comes to parenting the first-born, there’s always a set of younger eyes watching the parents’ every move. But with the youngest, nobody younger is watching the consequences play out, making it harder for parents to stick to all that “tough love” talk. For the youngest kids who get into trouble, the study said parents are more likely to bail them out.

So, Bobby--thanks for being the first-born and carrying the load of parental discipline.
And while I'm at it, I guess I should offer an apology of some sort to my first-born son.

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