Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy

No 2016:18: Born to lead? The effect of birth order on non-cognitive abilities

Sandra E. Black (), Erik Grönqvist () and Björn Öckert ()
Additional contact information
Sandra E. Black: Department of economics, University of Texas; IZA; NEBR, Postal: Austin, Texas
Erik Grönqvist: IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy, Postal: Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy, P O Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Björn Öckert: IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy, Postal: Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy, P O Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden

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 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; non-cognitive abilities; managerial skills

JEL-codes: I00; J10

51 pages, November 1, 2016

Full text files

wp2016-18-born-to-lead.pdf PDF-file 

Download statistics

Questions (including download problems) about the papers in this series should be directed to Monica Fällgren ()
Report other problems with accessing this service to Sune Karlsson ().

This page generated on 2018-01-23 23:33:43.