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Tara, her younger sister, is the one who wants the cuddles, who frets if I’m not first at the door when school finishes.
The idea that she’ll soon be shoved out of her space as the baby of the family and squashed into the middle fills me with guilt. The importance of birth order was first set out by the Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler.
Through human evolution, birth order has determined who inherits power (the first-born) and who is sent to war (the youngest as he was the ‘spare’).
First born Historically, first-borns have been less likely to die in infancy, are less susceptible to disease and, as adults, are more likely to reproduce.
They are their parents’ ‘blue-chip security’, whose birth is most eagerly anticipated, whose first steps, first words, first everythings are celebrated.
‘Typical first-borns are appro-val-seeking missiles,’ says Grose.
Surely, these things are not set before we even get started?
Grose admits the effects of birth order can vary according to different factors, including temperament, gender and age gap.‘But if I was pushed, if they messed up my room or touched my records, I’d rage.Any threat to my power, I suppose.’ Another characteristic of first-borns, according to Frank Sulloway, author of Born to Rebel (Abacus), is caution and aversion to risk.‘They’ve been showered with attention and identify strongly with power.’ First-borns are thought to be conscientious and achievement-oriented.
A study of Norwegians born between 19 found that educational achievement was highest in first-borns and diminished the further down the birth order you got, despite little difference in IQ.The legal profession is, says Grose, filled with first-borns.