How Does Birth Order Impact Career Success – The Hidden Influence Revealed

Have you ever considered that your birth order in the family could affect how far you get in life? Read this article to learn how your birth order impacts your career success.

When assessing career success and overall life accomplishments, numerous individuals consider factors such as diligence, education, and a robust support system to be crucial. However, an often overlooked factor can potentially wield a significant influence on one’s prospects for success: birth order.

Yes, believe it or not, but according to popular belief and several studies, birth order can influence your success metrics and how far you get in your life. This may be the reason why John from your workplace is starting his business successfully rather than Steve, who is smarter and more hardworking. That was just a random example, but you must have seen more instances to back up this claim, or perhaps you are dealing with some of these issues yourself.

However, before we get into the specifics, let us understand what birth order theory is and how does birth order impacts career success.

What is birth order theory?

The concept of birth order suggests that individuals develop distinct personality types and qualities based on their position in the family hierarchy. Alfred Adler, an Austrian psychologist, first suggested this theory to explain human growth and behavior in the 1930s.

Adler put forth a captivating theory that delves into the idea that our birth order has a meaningful impact on our growth and development. This is because it introduces a distinct set of expectations, roles, and responsibilities into our lives. It’s fascinating to ponder how our place in the family can shape us into the individuals we are today. The phenomena of middle child syndrome, tantrums during early childhood, and the eldest child’s stretched-thin behavior are familiar to many.

According to Adler’s concept, the oldest child often faces increased parental pressure to succeed. As a result of the stress, they grow in maturity and drive. However, second-born children are thought to have a greater sense of independence because their parents might not be as rigorous with them at this age (or might just take them for granted). People who are third or later in the birth order are sometimes complimented for having a natural talent for forming close relationships.

A fascinating study conducted in Sweden in 2017 revealed that the eldest children tend to gravitate towards leadership positions such as managers or CEOs in their careers. On the other hand, younger siblings are more inclined towards creative or spontaneous roles like musicians, journalists, artists, or even entrepreneurs. However, is this assertion truly accurate.

Ok, we can somehow relate this theory to Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs, the well-known billionaires who happened to be the eldest children in their families. But what about Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire and social media mogul, who holds the position of the middle child in the family?

One could argue that Facebook serves as a hub for entertainment, and it’s commonly believed that creativity is associated with such amusement. This thinking would suggest that middle children are more inclined towards creativity. Just an attempt to connect the dots.

How does birth order affect success?

Before we jump to conclusions and make up our minds that birth order affects success, let us understand how it does. When we dive deep into Adler’s theory, we find out that many factors, including psychic conditions, can shape an individual’s character and life chances, aside from birth order. “It is a common fallacy to imagine that children of the same family are formed in the same environment. Of course there is much that is the same for all in the same home, but the psychic situation of each child is individual and differs from that of others because of the order of their succession,” explains Adler in his book Problems of Neurosis: A Book of Case Histories.

First, let’s find out about birth order effects and discover how they are typically perceived in our society.

First Born:

Firstborns – often the apple of the eye, possess a unique position in the family. Due to being the eldest, they are often looked upon as the model child in terms of achievements, conduct, and attitude. They are expected to be the most responsible and mature among their siblings. Being the first one, they usually get more attention from parents, as well as high expectations. Firstborns are also often heavily invested in their education and career


Middle Child:

Middle children, as compared to first and lastborns, are commonly believed to have lower self-esteem since they do not receive as much attention or engagement from their parents as their first and lastborn siblings. Children in the middle position may feel excluded from the family’s spotlight because they lack the eldest’s commanding personality or the youngest one’s attention-seeking behaviors. These kids often come out as attention-seekers, envious, and rebellious and constantly try to escape their roles.


Lastborns – also known as the “baby of the family,” are the youngest members of the household. These youngest siblings often receive more attention from their parents, which can sometimes make them less independent and reliant on others. Compared to their older siblings, lastborns also have an advantage because they receive considerably more care and support and are less likely to experience expectations. They typically enjoy more independence and are usually the most expressive, emotional, extroverted, and rebellious.


Only children, or individuals without any siblings, are those who don’t have brothers or sisters. Due to their special status in the family, they have both unique advantages and disadvantages. As the only child, they enjoy the advantage of receiving extra attention from their parents compared to children with siblings. This situation can frequently result in individuals feeling pressured to achieve and be flawless, ultimately leading to increased stress levels and a sense of isolation.

Examining the effects of birth order on personality

Having gained an understanding of the various birth order roles, let us examine how precisely they impact personality. Studies have shown that birth order influences a variety of elements in an individual’s life, including IQ, academic performance, career paths, and personality traits.

Personality traits:

First Born:

First, let’s perform a quick personality test. It is believed that each birth order carries different personality traits. According to family counselor Sarah Smesler, first born children can be go-getters, determined, and score high at the extraversion known as dominance. This is due to their family position, where they are expected to take on the role of second parent and care for their siblings.

Second Born:

On the other hand, middle-born kids are susceptible to becoming more introspective, people pleasers, nurturing, and attention seekers. The fact that middle-borns are a walking dilemma sums up this behavior. Due to not receiving as much attention as the first and, in some cases, last born; second-borns constantly try to draw attention to themselves. In order to do so, they often remain confused about whether they should act like themselves or the first and last born. Of course, they are in need of clarification about why the other two orders are getting more attention and not them.

Last and Only Borns:

However, the lastborn tends to be the most carefree of the bunch, with a more spontaneous, gregarious, and even naughty disposition. They are often less conscientious as a result of a lack of responsibility and parental indulgence over expectations. In contrast, the only-born are raised under different influences. They don’t get any sibling competition or any responsibility, but due to being the sole focus of their parents, they are greeted with the same expectations and pressure as firstborns.

Intellectual ability:

Did you know that the order in which you were born can actually influence your intellectual abilities? It’s true! Yes, your birth order can greatly influence your intelligence. According to a study, children who are firstborn usually have higher IQs than those of their younger siblings. What is more fascinating, do you know? The gap in intelligence is even more noticeable between the oldest and the second oldest child! If you happen to be the oldest in your family, it’s possible that you might have a natural edge when it comes to intelligence. Pretty fascinating, right?

However, that doesn’t mean that the later borns are dumb. For instance, middle-borns Middle-born children develop the leadership skills of flexibility, diplomacy, and conflict resolution as a result of frequently feeling “sandwiched,” which may help them later in their personal endeavors. Besides this, they also tend to get more independence than the firstborns, which makes them self-reliant and helps them develop social skills.

Conversely, lastborns are more likely to develop high social skills due to their interaction and exposure with older siblings and different age groups. They may have a tendency to be outgoing, charming, and skilled at building relationships. They are also more likely to be highly creative and risk-takers, which helps them grow in creative domains.

Onlyborns or onelings receive their parents’ complete attention, which helps them develop higher EQs in terms of self-control, self-assurance, and maturity. However, keep in mind that these hypotheses are based on generalizations, and individual differences can clearly outweigh birth order differences.


Again, it is logical to assume that a person’s birth order also influences their feeling of self-worth, based on the theory that we have discussed here so far. Studies suggest that firstborns have greater self-esteem than siblings who were born later. However, because they feel left out or uncared for, middle-borns commonly experience low self-esteem. In contrast, last-born kids are more outgoing and confident because they get more parental attention and support than their older siblings.

Career goals:

Birth order can also influence an individual’s career goals and choices. It is believed that first-born children are more likely to choose a path that is focused on achievement, while later-born children are more likely to take risks and pursue creative or entrepreneurial opportunities.

For instance, as we previously mentioned, firstborns or only-borns are more drawn to leadership roles. This may include opening their own business and becoming their own boss, or working as an attorney, doctor, engineer, or in any other position of repute. Due to their ability to negotiate and be flexible, secondborns are more interested in managerial careers like law enforcement, government service, education, etc. They may also be drawn to semi-creative activities like event planning and styling, selling specialized foods or drinks, or making unique products.

Last-borns, with their super-happy-go-lucky nature and minds full of rebellion and mischief, are more likely to pursue full-fledged creative fields such as music, acting and dancing, designing, IT, and sales.

Birth order and career success – the birth orders of successful individuals

Until now, we have learned how firstborns, middle children, lastborns, and only-borns can differ in their success. Now let us look at some of the most successful people in the world today who are from various birth orders. Alert! This may change your perspective on what you just read.

First-born leaders:

According to what we have learned so far, if the circumstances are favorable, the firstborns are more likely to be serious, structured, and strategic thinkers with a hint of negative traits such as bosiness and competitiveness. They are believed to be born problem solvers and gravitate towards fields like politics, science, exploration, and industry.

Firstborns have a history of being successful in politics. The 62nd American Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was among the most well-known historical figures who were all the first children in their families. Hillary Clinton, Benito Mussolini, Elanor Roosevelt, and Jawaharlal Nehru followed him on this list.

Similarly, these eldest-borns took over the industry and soared as moguls and billionaires in their respective fields. The list includes grandees like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Marissa Mayer.

But here’s the surprising part: they are not just successful in the serious fields; they are also dominating the creative ones. That is right. There are many entertainers who are the first offspring but chose to work in the entertainment industry, including music sensation Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Lindsay Lohan, Justin Beiber, and the hottest, Keanu Reeves.

Second-born stars:

Contrary to what many people believe, second-borns are not simply replicas of their older siblings. They possess their own distinct qualities that distinguish them from others. Middle-born babies often experience confusion and may exhibit less responsibility and more unruly behavior compared to their older siblings. This can be attributed to the relatively low amount of attention they receive from their parents. This frequently led them to explore more imaginative and daring endeavors.

Some of history’s most accomplished people have been born into this birth order, ranging from Amy Schumer and Seth Rogan to Jennifer Lopez and Miley Cyrus to more traditional performers like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

This, however, does not negate their contributions to more serious and useful fields. Many second-born people, including John F. Kennedy, Princess Diana, Martin Luther King, and Abraham Lincoln, have succeeded greatly in politics and the monarchy. Also, there are several examples of successful secondborns who took the business world by storm. Such examples include famous American magnates like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Larry Page. These guys have succeeded due to their risk-taking attitude and knack for creative problem-solving.

Last-born achievers:

Being the last-born has its fair share of advantages. It’s common for lastborns to feel entitled and believe they can get away with things that their elder siblings cannot. This is due to the fact that lastborns are typically more imaginative and outgoing than their other siblings, attracting individuals from various social backgrounds.

They are the true daredevils in their families. According to a UC Berkeley report, younger siblings are 1.5 times more likely to participate in high-risk sports than their elder counterparts.

Additionally, the lastborns of the family are often known for their spontaneity, nonconformity, sociability, and natural talent for entertaining others. This is why their personalities are well-suited for professions that involve art and entertainment. Numerous examples support this statement, including some highly creative individuals who happen to be last-borns such as Whoopi Goldberg, Jim Carrey, Steve Martin, Ellen DeGeneres, and Charlie Chaplin.

This birth order is also more likely to adapt to careers that other family members avoid. For example, if they are born into a family of doctors, they would rather pursue a career in business or another field other than medicine. However, because they are in a less constrained and limitless environment, they can explore more and become great educators, doctors, and pioneers.

Wonderous onelings:

Onelings – also known as only children – are the simplest birth order to analyze because they have no siblings, making them unique in their own right. Without competing with other family members for attention and resources, one-children can be independentand self-sufficient from a young age.

According to a stereotype, only kids tend to be confident, socially mature, high-achieving, conscientious, goal driven and used to getting their own way. They are often seen as attention-seeking perfectionists who tend to have high aspirations for themselves.

Though it is difficult to generalize, one can certainly point out some successful only children in multiple fields of life. These include famous writers and artists, including Leonardo Da Vinci, Karl Marx, Lillian Hellman, and Daniel Steel. You may find these onelings in the field of politics, including Condoleezza Rice, Indira Gandhi, and Theresa May.

Key objections regarding the birth order theory:

The birth order theory has been the subject of considerable controversy and scholarly debate. There exists a divergence of opinions regarding the causal relationship between birth order and an individual’s success. One perspective posits that any observed effects are merely fortuitous, while an alternative viewpoint asserts that the influence of birth order on success is multifaceted and holds a significant role in our overall development. Scholars and critics have raised significant objections against Adler’s theory, challenging its validity and supporting evidence.

Following were some objections:

  • Insufficient scientific evidence:
  • Family dynamics
  • Environmental influence

Insufficient scientific evidence:

While numerous personal accounts about the birth order theory exist, there is still no scientific evidence to support the claims. Most of the research done on this topic used small groups of people, which means that the findings may not apply to a larger population.

Family dynamics:

The birth order theory frequently fails to consider various factors, including the size of the family, parenting approaches, economic circumstances, and cultural impacts. The variables mentioned above are of paramount importance in the process of individual development and warrant careful consideration when examining favorable outcomes.


Environmental influences:

The interconnection between environmental and biological factors makes it challenging to separate them when examining the influence of birth order on achievement. Hence, it is imperative for any research undertaken on this subject to consider these external influences.

As a parent, how to raise kids according to their birth order:

Indeed, raising children based on their birth order can be a difficult but rewarding experience, but a little help can always do magic, right? Here are some tips to help parents create an environment in which all of their children can thrive, regardless of their position in the family:

  1. Respect each child’s uniqueness
  2. Assign age-appropriate responsibilities
  3. Provide equal attention and support
  4. Communicate with your children
  5. Foster Independence

1.   Respect each child’s uniqueness:

Each child, whether the first or the last, deserves to be treated with the same level of individual care and attention, and no parent should forget this. Keep in mind that every child is different and deserves to be given a fair shot at life.

2.   Assign age-appropriate responsibilities:

Are you the one who always expects their firstborn to do everything for their younger siblings? If yes, then think again. Each child, no matter how young or old, should have responsibilities and duties commensurate with his or her age. This will help them develop a sense of responsibility and self-esteem that will stay with them throughout their lives. Do not put any child in the position of worrying about the safety of others; doing so would ruin their childhood and leave them anxious.

3.   Provide equal attention and support:

No matter the order in which the children are born, parents ought to give each child the same amount of attention and support. Ensuring that each child receives the same amount of love and attention from their caregivers is the best way to certify that all of their requirements are satisfied in a considerate manner.

4.   Communicate with your children:

When was the last time you sat down with your kids to have a full-fledged discussion on important topics? No, that dining table discussion doesn’t count; neither informing them is called communicating. Right and balanced communication is key between parents and their children, and it should be open and frequent. This will help everyone in the family be on the same page and cooperate for the best results.

5.   Foster independence:

Finally, parents should encourage their children to be independent thinkers who can think for themselves and make informed decisions. By fostering independence early on, they will be better prepared to make good decisions later in life.

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that every child is unique and should be treated as such. By following these tips, parents can ensure that each of their children will have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential, regardless of what birth order they were born into.

By understanding how birth order impacts career success, parents can create an environment that nurtures and supports each child’s individual strengths. This will help them achieve a balance between family harmony and successful outcomes for all members of the family.


In conclusion, birth order does have an impact on career success to some degree. While there is no definitive answer as to why or how, it is clear that the order in which a person is born can influence their life trajectory. Numerous other factors contribute to an individual’s success.These include the environment, education, family dynamics, and even luck.

Ultimately, while birth order can play a role in a person’s success, it is important to remember that each person is unique and should be allowed to reach their fullest potential. By understanding how birth order affects success, parents can create an environment that nurtures and supports each child’s individual strengths. This will help them achieve a balance between family harmony and successful outcomes for all members of the family.

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