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Babies are lined up on a mattress for a routine check-up at a maternity ward in a hospital in Manila July 11, 2010. July 11 marks World Population Day, which seeks to draw attention to global population issues, according to the United Nations Population Fund. From L-R: Baby girl Turibio born July 10, baby girl Amil born July 9, baby boy Villaluz born July 11, baby girl Herardo born July 8 and baby boy La Triaga born July 5. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo (PHILIPPINES - Tags: ANNIVERSARY HEALTH IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR2GB19
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Born to lead? The effect of birth order on non-cognitive abilities

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Editor's Note:

This article was originally published by the Institute of Labor Economics in February 2017.

Authors

Erik Grönqvist

Ph.D. - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy

Björn Öckert

Professor - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy

We study the effect of birth order on personality traits among men using population data on enlistment records and occupations for Sweden. We find that earlier born men are more emotionally stable, persistent, socially outgoing, willing to assume responsibility, and able to take initiative than later-borns. In addition, we find that birth order affects occupational sorting; first-born children are more likely to be managers, while later-born children are more likely to be self-employed. We also find that earlier born children are more likely to be in occupations that require leadership ability, social ability and the Big Five personality traits. Finally, we find a significant role of sex composition within the family. Later-born boys suffer an additional penalty the larger the share of boys among the older siblings. When we investigate possible mechanisms, we find that the negative effects of birth order are driven by post-natal environmental factors. We also find evidence of lower parental human capital investments in later-born children.

Read the full article here.

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