Well, sure, sometimes. But the reality is that all siblings aren't created equal and they don't get treated as such. Firstborns, for example, often get shafted because parents are stricter with them, while later-born kids might have fewer rules. And everyone knows that the youngest seems to get away with murder because parents have seen it all before. And where's the middle child in all of this? Forgotten or overlooked.
Depending on birth position, there are special roles within families, leading to different adaptation patterns and different personalities, says Ben Dattner, a New York City-based organizational psychologist. As a result of a stricter upbringing, for example, firstborn children tend to be more extroverted and confident, while second-born kids are more rebellious and open to new experiences, he says. The youngest child is usually the most creative and can be manipulative to get his or her way.
Clearly, birth order affects personality, but what about career advancement and success? Several studies show that firstborns and only children usually reach higher educational goals, obtain greater prestige and acquire more net worth, while the middle child is likely to struggle a bit more.
"A child's position in the family impacts his personality, his behavior, his learning and ultimately, his earning power," says Michael Grose, author of "Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It." "Most people have an intuitive knowledge that birth order somehow has an impact on development, but they underestimate how far-reaching and just how significant that impact is. "
Compensation: A recent survey by CareerBuilder.com found that workers who were the firstborn child in their families were more likely to earn $100,000 or more annually compared with their siblings.
Professions: The oldest tend to pursue vocations that require higher education, like medicine, engineering or law. Firstborns from the CareerBuilder.com survey reported working in jobs in government, engineering, pharmacy and science. Ohio State University researchers found firstborn children were more likely to pursue "intellectual" jobs.