Born to Lead? The Effect of Birth Order on Non-Cognitive Abilities

61 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2017

See all articles by Sandra E. Black

Sandra E. Black

University of Texas at Austin - Center for Law, Business, and Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics

Erik Gronqvist

IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation

Bjorn Ockert

IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation

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Abstract

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.

Keywords: birth order, personality, occupation choice

JEL Classification: J12, J24

Suggested Citation

Black, Sandra E. and Gronqvist, Erik and Ockert, Bjorn, Born to Lead? The Effect of Birth Order on Non-Cognitive Abilities. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10560, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2923645

Sandra E. Black (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin - Center for Law, Business, and Economics ( email )

Austin, TX
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics

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N-5035 Bergen
Norway

Erik Gronqvist

IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation ( email )

Box 513
751 20 Uppsala
Sweden

Bjorn Ockert

IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation ( email )

Box 513
751 20 Uppsala
Sweden

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