First-born kids become CEO material

First-borns are smarter than siblings and more likely to succeed in business.

ByABC News
January 8, 2009, 1:13 AM

— -- Scientists have found that first-born children are smarter than their brothers and sisters. It appears they are more likely to succeed in business, too.

A large study done by Norwegian scientists and published in July in the journal Science found that oldest children on average had a slightly higher IQ than their siblings.

The study did not look at eventual business achievement, but the gap of just 2.3 points was enough to sometimes mean the difference in better colleges and job opportunities, and the study suggested that first-born children were more likely to strive.

Vistage received 1,582 responses, vs. 200 to 300 for previous surveys, says spokesman Tony Vignieri. Of those, 43% were born first, 23% born last and 33% landed somewhere in the middle.

USA TODAY followed up with a smaller survey of CEOs on its own panel. It received responses from 155, of which 59% were first born, 18% were the youngest and 23% fell in the middle.

Why do first-born children so dominate the boardrooms? CEOs themselves say they got hit in the face early in life with a stew of factors. Those included the undivided attention, at least for a time, from their parents.

They say they felt the pressure of greater expectations. They were forced to become self-sufficient because they had to look after younger siblings while not having an older sibling looking out for them.

Ben Dattner, a psychology professor at New York University who has studied birth order, says it makes sense that first-born children rise to the top.