First born child and female? Then you’re more likely to be a success

First-born girls found to be most ambitious and best qualified in families

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The Independent Online

For all the girls who wanted to be the next Oprah Winfrey, Hilary Clinton, or Beyoncé, their dreams could be scientifically closer to coming true - as long as they are first-borns.

The common trait that these successful women share, along with the likes of JK Rowling, Christine Lagarde, Sheryl Sandberg and Dr Susan Greenfield, is that they are the first-borns of their family, and now science has found that this could be, in part, the secret to their success.

According to new research carried out by Feifei Bu at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, first-born girls are statistically more likely to be more ambitious, and better qualified, than their siblings.

The study found that the girls tend to have higher aspirations, which is expected to push them towards higher education levels and that they are 4% more likely to achieve further education qualifications.

It also showed that first-born girls are 13% more ambitious than first-born boys.

But when boys are the eldest child, they don’t do badly, with the likes of Barack Obama, Mick Jagger, and Bill Clinton, all proving the potential of their sex.

Speaking to the Observer, Bu said there are “several possible explanations for the higher attainment and ambition” of the eldest children.

She said: “It could be that parents simply devote more time and energy to them – it could be they are actually more intelligent. For me, I lean towards the theory that parental investment is possibly at work here.”

The research found that first-borns are 7% more likely to want to stay on in higher education than their younger siblings, and that the greater the gap between children, the greater the chance of gaining higher qualifications, with the optimum gap being four years.

Bu added: “I would say that the larger the age-gap between the children, the better the qualifications. I don’t think the number of children is something I can say anything about, as this study was done here in the UK, where family size tends to be smaller, so there was no substantial difference to note.”