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First-Born Children Aspire Higher When It Comes to School, Study Says

Girls with book.
Photograph by Getty Images/Hemera

When it comes to high achievement, birth order makes a big difference.

A new study shows that eldest children really do aspire higher, particularly when it comes to education. Feifei Bu, a Ph.D. student at the University of Essex in England, used sibling data from the British Household Panel Survey, which included 1,503 sets of siblings, to determine how birth order affects achievement within a family.

To measure children's aspirations, according to The Atlantic, Bu noted the kids' answers to the following question they were asked at age 13: "Do you want to leave school when you are 16, or do you plan to go on to sixth form or college?" Future studies then followed up with the kids to report what they had achieved.

The results?

First-born children had higher aspirations when it came to education, with about 7 percent of them "more likely to want to stay in school," according to The Atlantic. Not only that, but they were also 16 percent more likely to have more education under their belt.

And when it came to boys versus girls, the girls came out higher on the aspiration scale, with 13 percent of them more likely to want to pursue further education than boys.

Some first-born girls? The list includes Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and author J.K. Rowling

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