In what is somewhat offensive news to those of us who were born second in our families, MIT economist Joseph Doyle recently published a study that concluded we, the second-born, are more likely to end up in jail than those who came before us. Specifically this is true of second-born males—they’re 20 to 40% more likely to be disciplined in school or end up incarcerated—but the study also shows that second-borns overall are more prone to behavioral problems and disobedience than their siblings. We think this is because first-borns are always the favorite—a sweeping generalization we’re making based on personal experience only—and as a result second-born children have to act out in order to get the attention parents reserve for the offspring they love more. The researchers seem to agree with us, writing, “We consider differences in parental attention as a potential contributing factor to the gaps in delinquency across the birth order.” (Hold please, as we send this to our parents in order to guilt them into “lending” us money we’ll never pay back.)
One thing we find randomly hilarious about the study is that it was conducted on people from Florida and Denmark, which is a potentially genius methodology for reasons we can’t necessarily explore without being offensive. Suffice it to say, these two seem like polar opposites in terms of subject pools. This editor was in Copenhagen last week and it’s hard to imagine anyone there ever misbehaves.
In any case, we’re not entirely sure what value this information has other than to justify your naughtiest inclinations if you’re a second-born, make you feel guilty if you parented a second-born who behaves badly and/or potentially warn you of the danger that your second child could murder you in your sleep if you don’t hug him or her enough. Do with all of that what you will.