If you happen to have a son who has an older sibling, you’re in for a wild ride! According to researchers, second-born children, particularly sons, are more likely to end up in jail, become juvenile delinquents or get suspended.

According to a study led by economist Joseph Doyle, the ‘curse’ of the second child may be more than just an old wives’ tale. The research revealed that second-born children, and more specifically sons, have a 25% to 40% increased chance of getting into serious trouble at school or with the law, when compared to the first-born child in their family. Ouch!

The researchers delved through a huge amount of data, which came from two different areas – Florida and Denmark. And when it came to crime and delinquency, the numbers were damning.

“I find the results to be remarkable that the second-born children, compared to their older siblings, are much more likely to end up in prison, much more likely to get suspended in school, enter juvenile delinquency,” Joseph Doyle told NPR.

“Across all these outcomes, we’re getting 25 to 40% increases in the likelihood of these outcomes just by comparing a second-born sibling compared to a first-born.”

So why is there such a difference in behaviour between first and second-born brothers?

Joseph says the first-born son has adult role models. But the same can’t be said for the next child.

“The second, later-born children have role models who are slightly irrational two-year-olds, you know, their older siblings. Both the parental investments are different, and the sibling influences probably contribute to these differences we see in labour market and what we find in delinquency. It’s just very difficult to separate those two things because they happen at the same time.”

There has been previous research indicating that first-born children do better at school, have higher IQs and often earn more money, but this study was the first that uncovered how naughty second-born kids are.

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  • Nah I’ve not found it to be much diff. Except for in my family growing up!


  • Definitely true in my family, I was the second child


  • I’m the second child, and while not exactly a trouble maker, I did push the boundaries (not as much as my older sister though) and still to this day I am the one my mother puts the most expectations on, and therefore the one who can disappoint the most.


  • I’m second born black sheep of family, but because I’m Christian and have adult daughters with special needs and choose to not follow the crowd. All my siblings were trouble makers mostly my 3 brothers


  • Having had 4 children, the youngest was the most mischievous in my brood, but my second was always the most placid and still is to this day. The first was always striving and the third would have been the one getting into trouble except as a girl, she didn’t follow suit to your study.


  • Seeing my second born develop and start interacting with her older sister, I can definitely see this is 100% true


  • Being a second born, I’m not sure I agree with this! I try not to generalize my children’s behaviours based on their birth orders and just let them be who they are!

    • I agree with you, we must be careful not to generalize


  • Seem to differ in my opinion with second childs behaviour. Found quieter, and more of a leader with plenty of followers. Third child is more mischievous and a handful.


  • I can agree with this. My second son was far more naughtier than his brother but although he’s caused us many a sleepless night wouldn’t change him for the world. Same happened with my hubby and his brother. They can be painful but I find very lovable.

    • Glad your 2nd son, your hubby & his brither are all lovable with their naughty streaks :)


  • My 3rd shows lots of behaviours but has a list of diagnosis and has a history of trauma & neglect. We adopted her into our family at age 4. She’s 13yr old now.
    She had in year 4 her first suspension and in yr 5 she had 17 detentions and 11 suspensions, which increased over the years. Since this term we moved her to a YMCA Vocational school


  • My second born is mischievious but not naughty.


  • I am the eldest and I never noticed this with my siblings. But my hubby is the second child and it definitely rings true for him! Lol


  • My third is my terror ???? I had twins first up and my third singleton is definitely different to the twins


  • My second was great. It was my third that was my terror!


  • My second is only 2 and he’s definitely not on the same level as my first. If he’s more of a trouble maker than my first I’m in a lot of trouble.


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