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October 05, 2021

Forget who gets the car, birth order may impact your career

If only the kids would get along, instead of blaming everything on their brothers or sisters.

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 often have fewer rules to cope with.

Now, however, it turns out that those first-born kids are the most likely to earn six figures and hold a top executive position among workers with siblings, according to findings from jobs website CareerBuilder.

Meanwhile, middle kids are the most likely to report holding an entry-level spot and earning less than $35,000.  

Of course, it's all about choices and career decisions clearly impact income.

First borns tend to be drawn to government positions and science, CareerBuilder reports. Middle children lean toward public service and care-taking roles while the youngest in families prefer more creative roles and technology.

When it comes to annual earnings for men, firstborns earn about 1.2% more than second children, and about 2.8% more than third children. For women, firstborns earn about 4.2% more than secondborns, and about 6.6% more than thirdborns.

But if it's just a brother or sister in play, parents needn't worry as much. According to New York University professor Dalton Conley, birth order is really a red herring in two-child families.

In his book "The Pecking Order: Which Siblings Succeed and Why," he says it’s only when the second born becomes the middle child in a family of three or more that birth order starts to matter.

Ask my daughters.

Is this the way things play out in your family? Is the first born the big earner? Or have you managed to break the pattern somehow?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...