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The influence of birth order (are you the oldest of your siblings, the youngest, the middle child or whatever?) is widely interesting to the public. For example, when I was a child in the 1960s, my being an only child was a subject of widespread envy among other children. Everybody had a theory about how I was going to grow up greedy or entitled or whatever due to my Only Child Privilege.

(It’s interesting how discussions of Privilege these days in, say, The Atlantic tend to be much cruder and more reductionist — White Privilege! — than among school children in 1969 — Only Child Privilege.)

But the effects of Birth Order has been a vexed subject for researchers. I reviewed a book on the subject back in the 1990s for National Review. Lately, psychiatrist Scott Alexander of his SlateStarCodex blog has gotten interest in the subject.

I used the 2019 Slate Star Codex survey, in which 8,171 readers of this blog answered a few hundred questions about their lives and opinions.

My impressions are that SlateStarCodex’s readers can be stereotyped as:

– extraordinarily high IQ,

– more logical than well-informed relative to their IQs (his readership originally growing out of a Rationalist cult),

– interested in mental health problems, often because of difficulties of their own. (Scott is, among much else, a psychiatrist and has done a lot of interesting Moneyball-style research on which psychiatric pharmaceuticals work for whom.)

– They tend more toward the tech industry and STEM academia than, say, the humanities academia or the arts.

Of those respondents, I took the subset who had exactly one sibling, who reported an age gap of one year or more, and who reported their age gap with an integer result (I rounded non-integers to integers if they were not .5, and threw out .5 answers). 2,835 respondents met these criteria.

Of these 2,835, 71% were the older sibling and 29% were the younger sibling. This replicates the results from last year’s survey, which also found that 71% of one-sibling readers were older.

So, that’s a sizable sample for a nice simple subset of this complicated issue.

In contrast, many birth order analyses get sidetracked into the weeds of complex family situations. For example, the book I reviewed worried how to categorize Hitler (everybody always asks about Hitler), who was something like his father’s 4th born child but the first born of his mother, who was his father’s third wife. Or something like that. (My general impression, by the way, is that family histories tend to be more complicated than you might assume: e.g., President Gerald Ford, the embodiment of American normalcy, only met his biological father once after infancy.)

But Scott has boiled it down nicely to a simple comparison: if you are one of two siblings, are you the older or the younger one?

And he gets a strong result: 71% for his readers who are one of two siblings are the older one.

Of course, that raises the question of what exactly is being selected for in this highly self-selected example: high IQ, powers of reason versus powers of memory, mental health issues, attention span (Scott writes some of the longest blog posts on the Internet), or what?

Okay, let’s assume it is IQ. Scott sums up:

Overall these results make me lean slightly more towards intra-family competition or parental investment as the major cause of birth order effects. I can’t immediately think of a way to distinguish between these two hypotheses, but I’m interested in hearing people’s ideas.

Scott summarizes the two leading theories in line with his results as:

1. Intra-family competition. The oldest child choose some interest or life path. Then younger children don’t want to live in their older sibling’s shadow all the time, so they do something else.

With a highly selected group like SSC’s readers, who are way out at the edge of the bell curve for logical ability and attention span, maybe younger siblings choose to develop other aspects of their talents?

2. Decreased parental investment. Parents can devote 100% of their child-rearing time to the oldest child, but only 50% or less to subsequent children.

Mom or Dad patiently explain logic to their logically inclined first child, but don’t have as much time for the second child. And the first child isn’t as good a teacher for the second child and maybe is actively aggressive toward the younger sibling: “You’re stupid for not understanding the Law of the Excluded Middle.”

The second surviving theory then would raise the Daycare Question. Should high IQ mothers work less to spend more time nurturing their high IQ children’s intellects? Or is a Mixtec-speaking nanny good enough?

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  1. megabar says:

    Pre-birth maternal nutrition status?

    I’ve long wondered if post-partum depression is caused by a depletion of nutrients, as it seems like a terrible evolutionary strategy.

    If so, it seems possible that women don’t fully replete whatever it is that they’re missing in time for their next child.

  2. Frank G says:

    How about first children have higher testosterone on average.

    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
  3. @megabar

    Scott considers that, but I skimmed over his answer.

  4. Bill P says:

    As a parent with a ton of hands-on experience it seems pretty clear to me what’s going on. First, parenting is hard, tiresome work. It’s psychologically and physically taxing, especially for people who did not grow up accustomed to drudgery and manual labor.

    When you have one kid, it’s much more manageable than with two. I remember two kids seeming more than twice as hard as one. Naturally, you’re going to start cutting some corners here, not being as mindful of details, etc. It slowly gets easier until first grade, then it gets a whole lot easier quickly.

    So the first kid has access to less-stressed, more attentive parents until the next one comes along, who doesn’t have that opportunity at all.

    However, if the next kid is born after the first has started elementary school, he gets essentially the same attention and care as the older sibling did.

    It probably doesn’t make a huge difference, but it’s enough to show up in the margins.

  5. Reminds me of Gladwell’s thing about all the hockey stats bring the oldest of their grade level.

  6. With the first-born kid, the parents are more stressed out, with higher expectations for that kid. They are more down-to-Earth with the second kid. The baby is privileged—baby-privileged. The baby gets all of the adulation with far less of the high-stress expectations. Anything the baby does wrong is attributed to his / her youth and inexperience, even if the baby is just a few measly years younger than the older child. Youth works for the baby in every way, distracting from the baby’s misdeeds while magnifying his / her triumphs. Oh look, the baby has mastered this or that, and s/he is just a baby!!! With the eldest, any mastery is overshadowed by why did the older child failed to live up to expectations. S/he is 2 years older after all.

  7. i’m also the first son of two sons.

    emil kirkegaard as well.

    so there’s something going on here.

    we definitely know for sure the older brothers make homosexuals thing is happening. i say it’s support for the hormone hypothesis. but there’s various ideas for why it’s happening.

    only childs are worse socially adapted in my experience. i suspect the data says the same.

  8. When you have one kid, it’s much more manageable than with two

    One kid makes you a parent. Two make you a referee.

    I wonder what the trough number is. Parents of very large families have it easier than anybody, but only after an onerous initial investment.

    • Agree: Desiderius
  9. i also suspect first born sons are just smarter on average. i assume this is easy to test so the data must be there, but i don’t remember seeing any studies. i also assume the evidence is there that when you have lots of kids, like more than 4, the last couple aren’t as good or as sharp.

    primogeniture is the custom for good reason. like a lot of human customs.

    • Replies: @Dtbb
  10. Dtbb says:

    I was the fifth kid and my first nickname was Booboo. By the time I came around my dad had had it. I was pretty much on my own. My siblings are always joshing me that I got away with murder. They don’t know how my dad took me aside before my 16th birthday and told me to not expect a dime for a car or insurance and to blame my brothers, who all got help. I definitely went my own way to avoid their shadows, to my own detriment. Still I am in awe of how my parents pulled it off.

  11. Bill P says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Apparently after four kids you no longer notice the difference.

    • Replies: @Cortes
  12. Frans Johansson, the thinking man’s Gladwell, writes that one of the most statistically robust environmental factors among the successful is losing a parent when young. Eg, John and Paul, who lost their mothers in their mid-teens, wrote the songs, George and Ringo not so much. Svante Pääbo has risen further than his legitimate half-brother of the same age.

    But this may only operate at the highest levels of success, and among rare birds. It doesn’t appear to be a workable strategy for the middle rings of the success ladder.

  13. Am I missing something? Isn’t someone who is 27 more likely to read his blog than someone who is 17. Isn’t he just selecting for older people, who by definition, are more likely to be the eldest of the two siblings?

    • LOL: dvorak
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Philip Neal
  14. Muse says:

    1) Omega 3 makes for smarter kids
    2) First child born gets the most Omega 3,
    3) And I hate to be so base, but an ample, likely fat vs muscular bottom on the mother appears to rai

  15. @megabar

    A lot of women never fully regain the health they had before their children were born. Many kinda give up, start eating worse, exercising less. The second child is usually born to a less fit/healthy mother than the firstborn, 80 percent of the time.

    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
  16. How much of it can be attributed to the fact that older siblings were born to younger mothers and should therefore be healthier?

  17. Or maybe high IQ fathers marry Mixtec-speaking wives who do the housework and childcare, while they spend time educating their high IQ kids on their high IQ ideas.

    While high IQ moms needn’t waste their IQ-status on low-IQ jobs like feeding, diapering, doing the laundry – and instead of wasting their talent on low IQ activities like marriage and child rearing, focus on training up high IQ employees in the workplace.

    Now Isn’t that a wonderful world?

    • Replies: @Art Deco
  18. anon[310] • Disclaimer says:

    Parents can devote 100% of their child-rearing time to the oldest child, but only 50% or less to subsequent children.

    Is there a fault in Scott’s logic there? A parent could very easily devote over 50% of their parenting to one child. In fact, I’m sure it happens all the time – or at least, a very large number of people perceive it to have happened, or at least, for one child to have received more than their fair share of parenting (i.e. one of four kids got more than 25% of parental investment in time, resources, etc).

    Even aside from parental favouritism, there’s the difficult situation of a child with some serious medical or developmental problem.

    Unrelated, and totally unfair, but I find it hard to take Scott Alexander seriously ever since I found out he was banging a tranny. (I think it was an F-to-M, but it’s always hard to be sure.) (And this is public info that he put out, not some doxxing.) Anyway: am I the only one?

    • Replies: @Known Fact
    , @Desiderius
  19. “The oldest child choose some interest or life path. Then younger children don’t want to live in their older sibling’s shadow all the time, so they do something else.”

    The assumption seems to be, that the self selection for being a reader of SSC is something desirable like intellectual curiosity, and the younger sibling doesn’t choose that path because they don’t want to live in the shadow of their SSC reading intellectually curious older sibling.

    But first borns are at an social disadvantage. Younger siblings have the example of their older siblings to imitate or reject. They dissociate themselves from a bullied older sibling and associate and imitate a cool older sibling. And any knowledge of what older kids like is social gold. Not everyone has heard of the great Slate Star Codex. If a high school kid hears about it from their older sibling in University, they are more likely to check it out than if older sibling hears about it from their younger sibling in high school.

    But maybe SSC readers are more likely to be “nerds”, and maybe first borns are more likely to be “nerds”.

    I wonder what the birth order effects are on things like playing, watching team sports, watching Game of Thrones, age at first sexual experience, age at first drug experimentation.

  20. dvorak says:

    First child born gets the most Omega 3

    Most UMC women since 2000 will take omega 3 supplements with their folic acid. If you are right, we will see the results in a couple of decades.

    • Replies: @ConfirmationBias
  21. @Reg Cæsar

    I have known (still 1 very well) 3 families with 11 siblings each. At some point, the older kids take over, and by then the Mom confuses the birth order when looking at wedding photos. No kidding, now, granted she was ~ 70 y/o then, but I had to correct her on who was older than whom.

    Yes, they were all Catholic.

  22. @Muse

    Cod liver oil for the #WIN then? I don’t know about any of these smart-ass women, but apparently they do make the rockin’ world go round.

  23. OK, to get serious, I guess YOU were not serious with that last question on smart-Mom vs. Nanny, right? There’s all this argument about the stress for 1 vs. multiple children, but could we all agree that the stress level goes way down if the Mom stays home? (OK, stress about money, but families can find ways to scrimp). I say all of this from my experience.

    BTW, Steve, I’d forgotten you were an only child, but when I was young, I didn’t even know what that meant the 1st time I’d heard it. “What, no brothers and sister? How, whaaaa?” Now, “only children” are everywhere. China would be a good place to study the phenomena, of course, and there are a whole lot of spoiled youngsters over there, per my sources. It’s also the way the grandparents usually live near, or move near to, the only child, so that the kid has 4 grandparents raising him to some degree, along with the 2 parents working their asses off 10 hours/day. That’s a lot of attention, on the whole.

    • Replies: @Stan Adams
  24. “You’re stupid for not understanding the Law of the Excluded Middle.”

    Hey, take it easy on some of your cough, cough, statistics-challenged readers.

  25. Anon[115] • Disclaimer says:

    My instinct tells me that it has to be genetic (or pre-birth early fetal development).

    Attributing it to family environment is so outdated. Those kind of just-so stories should have disappeared with Judith Rich Harris. And more so with recent “nature of nurture” discoveries.

    At the moment of the mitosis that creates your initial genome, your traits are fixed, forever (probalistically, which is what we’re discussing here in larger samples). And your exact body cells are fixed in fetal development, where glitches produce the kind of variations we see between monozygotic twins.

    The only things that come to mind are.

    — The age of the mother (and father). After all, 100 percent of older siblings had older parents. Fresher eggs (and sperm). Fewer mutations.

    This might be tested with data about smoking, mine work, and other habits and professions known to cause cumulative mutation in germ cells. Intelligence had earlier been attributed to some underlying g factor that affected disparate skills, reading, math, memory, reaction time, etc., but recent genetic research has given rise to the theory that there is something even more underlyingly “g,” general,” about it, that intelligence is just “general fitness,” a term used to described a generally better built body and brain, fewer mutations and glitches, which explains things like the intelligence-health connection. Vd. Mitchell’s Inate on this.

    Another possible test would be to compare first-borns of young parents with first-borns of older parents. Or simply compare people based on their parents’s ages.

    Anothe line of research that should be done, but isn’t be because data is easily available, is to compare IVF kids to “organic” kids. Is the effect of the freezing and manhandling of eggs causing lower general fitness, lower intelligence, and overall greater mutations?

    — The fetal developmental environment is also important because this is when the body is built. The testosterone effect, whatever that is, happens here.

    I should take this opportunity to give a shout-out to Ray Blanchard, who published birth order research relating to male homosexuals. This is the guy who Twitter briefly banned for simply reporting facts and informed opinion about transgenderism.

    • Replies: @Spangel
  26. @Steve Sailer

    Scott considers that, but I skimmed over his answer.


  27. @prime noticer

    we definitely know for sure the older brothers make homosexuals thing is happening. i say it’s support for the hormone hypothesis. but there’s various ideas for why it’s happening.

    Paging gcochran, paging gcochran, gcochran please come to the comments section and submit a response post.

  28. @Muse

    And I hate to be so base, but an ample, likely fat vs muscular bottom on the mother appears to raise IQ. Of course a large derrière as a variable is confounded with good nutrition.

    Are you describing a ‘big ass woman’ or a ‘woman with a big ass?’

    • Replies: @Muse
  29. Anon[115] • Disclaimer says:

    For instance, this popped up as the first result in a Google Scholar search:

    Paternal age and intelligence: implications for age-related genomic changes in male germ cells
    Psychiatric Genetics: June 2005 – Volume 15 – Issue 2 – p 117-125

    Conclusion; We found independent effects of maternal and paternal age on offspring IQ scores. The paternal age effect may be explained by de novo mutations or abnormal methylation of paternally imprinted genes, whereas maternal age may affect fetal neurodevelopment through age-related alterations in the in-utero environment. The influence of late paternal age to modify non-verbal IQ may be related to the pathways that increase the risk for schizophrenia in the offspring of older fathers.

    I also noticed research on the mother’s health and offspring traits, and health in general just gets worse as we age, and in women childbirth is a pretty major thing happening to the body, so there are health effects.

  30. Liza says:

    Women who have just had a baby can regain their health if they really work at it, ie, good diet, rest, etc. However, you need a well functioning household (a good husband who helps, or outside help, etc.) and a good income to be able to carry out an improved diet and life. It is also mandatory to wait at least a couple of years before making another baby. Preferably longer even under the best circumstances.

    Yes, it is a fact that PPD is heavily associated with depletion of nutrients. Societies much smarter than ours require women who’ve just had a baby, whether it’s their first or their 10th, to mostly stay in bed for 30-40 days and regain their health while family members or paid help do the household tasks. It takes at least that long for the body to snap back. But no, Amerika knows better: Mom has to pretend life is normal, that her body is the same, that her capacities are the same. Go skiing 2 weeks after the baby arrives! Entertain friends! Keep the house clean. Pretend, full-time, that you are the same person, except there’s a baby there. And all this after enduring the barbarity of Amerikan-style birth practices. Screw Amerika. No wonder the wogs are taking over.

    And yet I hear prowhite “traditionalists” yap at length about how we are supposed to manufacture a whole shitload of white babies, one every 9 months, to “save” our race, as if it is all up to us.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Redneck farmer
    , @Thea
  31. anonymous[479] • Disclaimer says:

    I like the Slate Star Codex Guy – and I feel sorry for him, he is a likable sperg who wants to understand people, he has this general feeling that spergs often have that understanding people is a good thing, but he is a sperg, and an atheist one at that, so he can’t understand people, without a revelation from God, and he is apparently an arrogant agnostic or atheist dude, and there will be no revelation for him, ever, until he repents of his arrogance and lack of love for his fellow humans ……but as much as I like him and feel sorry for him, I have to say that I am really disappointed in Sailer for thinking that that crazy dude has anything to say about what makes people what they are.

  32. @Reg Cæsar

    Without George’s and Pete Best’s mothers, there would be no Beatles.

  33. More important is what year and month you are born in. And I don’t mean astrology.

  34. anon[166] • Disclaimer says:

    The “intellectual curiosity” theory seems best to me.

    There’s a rather different dynamic when you’re the oldest. When talking with parents in the presence a younger child, the oldest is the one who asks questions and has things explained to them. The younger sibling takes a back seat and indirectly tries to figure out what the older people are conversing about. They don’t initiate or choose the topic most interesting to them; they’re largely spectators.

    Perhaps it creates different mental habits.

    The difference can be imagined by remembering what it was like as a child to play with a neighbor a year or two older than yourself vs. one a year or two younger.

  35. Art Deco says:

    President Gerald Ford, the embodiment of American normalcy, only met his biological father once after infancy.)

    He only met him for the first time at age 17. Leslie King Sr. made multiple visits to Gerald Ford Sr.’s retail store. The younger Ford found it an irritant.

    Curio: in the authorized biography of Gerald Ford, four of his six siblings do not appear in the index. There is one reference to one brother and three references to another (the brother closest in age).

    in the 1960s, my being an only child was a subject of widespread envy among other children.

    I suspect that’s Southern California and only Southern California.

    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
  36. Art Deco says:

    Or maybe high IQ fathers marry Mixtec-speaking wives

    About 2% of the population of Mexico speaks an Indian dialect at home. The share who favor Mixtec is 0.6%.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  37. Anonymous[733] • Disclaimer says:

    Birth order is the single most important trait in a person, all things being more or less equal on the genetic side. That it is a characteristic constantly neglected show the extent to which first siblings are predominant in setting up what is considered a personal value instead of privilege when evaluating a person’s accomplishments. We seldom see details about sibling order in wikipedia biographies, for example, which would bring enormous clarity to the differences between siblings.

    Once a co-worker came to me an he was in fact in some despair with guilty. He said: “the first born so much as move in his craddle at night and you immediately wake up and go see what is happening. The second born sneezes and you reluctantly leave the bed to see if he is properly covered. The third born caughs and you spend the next week at the hospital with a child with pneumony because you were too lazy to get up and see what was happening and chose to pretend that it was nothing.”

    In my experience first-borns are in general far more intelligent than the other siblings, but they must be ridden hard not to stray and live on the glory of being the family prodigy. Second sons have to be managed because they tend to rebel, though are still exceedingly capable. Third borns and beyond, unless they are the first of their sex, are mostly reserve material. They get the candy and cavities, but never the money and least of all the father’s time.

    It seems that a first born who fails in life or has bad character causes enormous problems to the whole family, whereas a back seater who fails is considered expected. So, in general, that families give more importance to the first born is not only a good investment, but also a form of self protection.

    The current world, where first-borns are becoming the vast majority of chilren, shows the extent to which parents go to accomodate first-born idiosyncrasies. When they are good natured, like Steve, they are a gift to the world. But when they are entitled devils, crazyness abounds.

  38. Ted Bell says:

    One possibility is that first born children have more responsibilities than younger ones, particularly if there are only two children. It might force them to grow up faster, and be more practical, and harder working. I don’t see how that would translate to IQ, but it could certainly nudge people more toward STEM fields, and less toward humanities.

  39. Cortes says:
    @Bill P

    After four sons in a row, the sole daughter makes a difference. Probably works in reverse.

  40. @Bill P

    It slowly gets easier until first grade, then it gets a whole lot easier quickly.

    Probably why white people invented kindergarten, and for most of us, ‘nursery school’ before that. Not to mention nannies, which is one goyische habit our chosen friends have adopted with glee.

  41. @anonymous

    he is a likable sperg who wants to understand people, he has this general feeling that spergs often have that understanding people is a good thing

    He is as if he came from another planet in order to study human behavior. Many spergs are like this.

  42. unit472 says:

    People are far too complex. A first born might be the beneficiary of parents still deeply in love as compared to heading towards a divorce. OTOH a first born might face a financially struggling couple while a younger child might show up when mom and dad are more financially secure.

    Those were issues I faced growing up. It’s even more complex today. Was mom married when her first was born? How about dad and are the kids now a ‘blended’ family? Does mom have a mixed race child?

    I had a TV model as to how things ‘should be’ growing up. “Leave it to Beaver” was mine which was pretty ‘edgy’ in retrospect if you exclude the parents. It showed a world where boys had problems even if the parents didn’t. The Simpsons took a stab at it but made the parents buffoons instead of real people. I have no idea how children today see the world. My guess is they face a far more confusing reality than order of birth and for that I apologize.

  43. @Art Deco

    It is interesting that 2 of the last 8 presidents were not born with the name they were elected with, even though neither was legally adopted. In addition, another was enrolled in school as Barry Soetoro without being legally adopted.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  44. IHTG says:

    Seems like an important factor here is whether the two children are of the same gender.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  45. @dvorak

    I’m quite curious about this on a few different fronts
    1) if we plotted IQs by birth order, would we see statistically meaningful differences? If so, and assuming IQ is innate vs environmental (which is this blog’s argument here wrt some races have genetically lower IQ which isn’t due to stress-related changes to the developing child’s brain from poverty, single-mother households, higher incidence of childhood abuse / neglect etc) then could it be due to depletion of nutrients for the mom with each additional child
    2) do nutritional supplements truly mimic the same effects as absorbing them from food?
    3) even if moms do follow a nutritionally dense diet before subsequent children, is the body able to get back to pre-first-child levels or is it permanently deficient?
    4) how much does gap between children matter? Assuming it’s a nutritional deficiency issue, is 1 year sufficient to rebuilt reserves? 2? 4?

  46. Sean says:

    Younger your mother when you were born the better for everything biological about you. (eg to live to 100 you’d have a better chance being born to a 16 year old that a 21 year old mother). I suppose IQ is higher and thus the Yamnaya introduction of primogeniture (ie inheritance by oldest son )makes sense.

    Another factor is spacing because as a younger sibling you are less likely to have access to the same resources (including prenatal environment in the womb) that a first born got.Moreover, a lot of women have insufficient spacing of births to build themselves up between pregnancies and have two two children too close together. And if you are in a run of brothers that makes for additional problems.

    • Replies: @S. Anonyia
  47. @Reg Cæsar

    And don’t forget Wayne – Bruce Wayne. He lost both parents whilst a wee tot, and became a fabulously wealthy superhero!

    Anyway, c’mon, old chum! George Harrison was far more talented than Paul McCartney ever was. The Beatles, like, say Guns ‘n’ Roses, were amazing because more than the sum of their parts. Now, I could compare entirely independent efforts of Harrison and McCartney, and the point would stand, but also look to what company each kept after the Beatles split, and with what results!:

    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
  48. @IHTG

    It’s a good question, although since births are close to 50-50 male / female, maybe not that big an issue. But is there a slight male bias among first borns?

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  49. Cortes says:
    @Reg Cæsar


    The Merriam-Webster account of the etymology of “orphan”:

    “History and Etymology for orphan
    Middle English orphan, orphen, borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French orphayn, borrowed from Late Latin orphanus, borrowed from Greek orphanós “left without parents, child without parents,” derivative (with -anos, noun and adjective suffix) of *orphos “orphan,” going back to Indo-European *h3órbhos “person or property turned over (as after a death),” whence also Armenian orb “orphan,” Latin orbus “deprived by death of a relative, bereaved, orphan,” Old Church Slavic rabŭ “slave,” also (from post-Indo-European *orbhós “one having the inheritance, heir,” whence *orbhii̯o- “of the heir”) Old Irish orpe, orbae “patrimony, heritage,” Old English ierfe “inheritance,” Old Saxon erƀi, Old High German erbi, Gothic arbi, and (from Germanic *arbijōn- “heir”) Old English ierfa “heir,” Old High German erbo, Gothic arbja, runic Norse arbija; Indo-European *h3órbhos perhaps derivative of a verbal base *h3erbh- “turn, be turned over, undergo transfer””

    The Doors’s “Riders on the Storm” gets a mention in the Wikipedia entry on Heidegger’s geworfenheit…

  50. dearieme says:

    I once read that all the birth order conclusions in psychology fail if you reclassify only children from first-born to last-born.

    Was that true? Is it still true?

  51. Anon[520] • Disclaimer says:

    And yet I hear prowhite “traditionalists” yap at length about how we are supposed to manufacture a whole shitload of white babies, one every 9 months, to “save” our race, as if it is all up to us.

    Hear, hear! I hate those kind of people. A woman needs two or three months off between babies, sometimes more, to recover and to bank mother’s milk.

    Fortunately, after you hit about six kids it becomes a lot easier, since the older kids can take care of the younger kids.

  52. Old Prude says:

    As the fourth of five siblings, I say this is a very fine comment and maps well against my family history.

  53. @Juan DeShawn Arafat

    Juan DeShawn Arafat says:Next New Comment
    May 16, 2019 at 1:27 am GMT(Edit-3216596)
    Am I missing something? Isn’t someone who is 27 more likely to read his blog than someone who is 17. Isn’t he just selecting for older people, who by definition, are more likely to be the eldest of the two siblings?

    Good point. He’d need to model the age of his readership to figure out how to adjust for this.

  54. @Liza

    I read an article that said optimum breedback date is 9 months after birth.

    • Replies: @Liza
  55. Someone needs to study this issue and take prior pregnancies, adoptions, miscarriages, and abortions into account. It would be pretty hard to do–impossible in a study like Scott’s–but it might shed some light on whether on observed effects were nature-y or nurture-y.

    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
  56. @megabar

    If the problem is depletion of nutrients from pregnancy, why would it be “post-partum”?

    • Replies: @megabar
  57. “… my being an only child was a subject of widespread envy among other children. Everybody had a theory about how I was going to grow up greedy or entitled or whatever due to my Only Child Privilege.“

    So, you’re just going to leave that hanging out there?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  58. @S. Anonyia

    My neighbor was a marathon runner and she kept running long distances daily into maybe the 8th month of her pregnancy. You could study athletes to see what effect maternal fitness has.

    • Replies: @jim jones
  59. “Should high IQ mothers work less to spend more time nurturing their high IQ children’s intellects?”

    I think mothers should be at home with their kids at least until they go to school, and that handing over a 6 month old baby, as many professional mothers do in the UK, to a nursery for 12 hours a day is child abuse.

    But … the British upper and upper-middle classes gave their kids to nannies and then sent them to boarding schools – yet there seemed no shortage of intellect in 19th and 20th century Britain.

    Both Kipling and Churchill had pretty miserable childhoods, and you wonder if Churchill didn’t love nanny Mrs Everest (‘that excellent woman’) more than his distant mum. Both men turned out high achievers.

    I know two very bright couples, one where the wife stayed at home to raise her kids and one where mum worked. Both sets of kids are very bright.

    My theory is that kids with more maternal input in infancy/childhood are happier, but maybe less happy kids achieve more as adults. But I have no evidence.

    (It also strikes me that bright kids who’ve had longish illnesses/hospital stays in childhood also seem high achievers – like Joni Mitchell. Don’t know if anyone’s looked at it.)

  60. @Chrisnonymous

    Also, it would useful to know what percentages of later pregnancies vs earlier ones are planned vs accidental. Substance abuse takes effect early in the pregnancy. Maybe low level hard living has an effect that is sub-retardation but noticeable.

  61. @Anonymous

    Parents of one child are beginner parents, worrying all the time if they’re doing the right thing. By number three or four they’re a lot more laid back.

    • Agree: Cortes
  62. @The Alarmist

    Now I remember, the word everybody used about only children in the 1960s was “spoiled.”

    I don’t actually have all that much of an opinion what effect being an only child had on me, partly because I’ve never been anything other than an only child and I’m not that interested in sample size of one questions.

    But it was a big deal in the 1960s.

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
    , @Desiderius
  63. @Steve Sailer

    I was the oldest of four, and I envied all you onlies while my siblings envied me. Karma, I guess.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  64. @Achmed E. Newman

    It’s also the way the grandparents usually live near, or move near to, the only child, so that the kid has 4 grandparents raising him to some degree, along with the 2 parents working their asses off 10 hours/day. That’s a lot of attention, on the whole.

    Thirtysomething only child here. The slacker millennial son of a flaky boomer mother, I can confirm that I was spoiled rotten – in a material sense – by my wealthy maternal grandparents.

    My mother never had much time for me, and my father was completely out of the picture by the time I was of memory age. I spent my weekends and holidays with my grandparents, and my afternoons and evenings with a succession of babysitters.

    I’ll always remember the last day I spent with my longest-running babysitter, a (white) Colombian. Her husband worked long hours, so he was never around. She had four boys – one a little older than me, two past puberty, one deceased – and treated me like a member of the family.

    (The dead son perished in a car crash after partying hard on the night of his high-school graduation. My babysitter told my mother that, after burying her boy, taking care of me was the only thing that kept her sane.)

    On that particular evening, she was haggling over a little bit of money. The two of them started screaming at each other.

    She yelled at my mother, “I’m more of a mother to him than you are! I deserve him more than you do! I think I even love him more than you do! I take care of him every day from the time he gets out of school until ten o’clock at night! All you do is pick him up and put him in bed.”

    That was the end of the conversation. My mother grabbed me and yanked me over to her car. I never saw my babysitter again. She had no right to speak to my mother that way, to be sure. But I’ll always be grateful for the taste of having a “real” family that spending time with her gave me. My cousin is the closest thing I have to a sister, but my babysitter’s sons – particularly J., the youngest, who was only a couple of years older than me – were the closest things I ever had to having brothers.

    I never had any close male friends in school, and I only played with my cousin on the weekends, so I never got to do typical guy things with other boys. The few masculine things I did get to do were all courtesy of my babysitter and her family.

    In all of my formative years, I was challenged to a fight exactly once. J. and I were horsing around in the common area behind my babysitter’s townhouse when a group of older boys surrounded us. They grabbed me and told me that I had to fight, unless I wanted to be a girl. I didn’t, so I swallowed my fear and agreed.

    The other boys formed a circle around the two chosen contestants and began chanting “Fight! Fight! Fight!” I was six, maybe seven, and my towering opponent was probably eight or nine. He swaggered toward me, confident in his ability to pummel me to the ground. But I didn’t give him the chance. I rushed up to him and decked him straight in the chin. He fell to the ground and started bawling.

    The other boys, who had been cheering him on, reacted with shock and horror at the fact that I’d managed to prevail. They kept saying, “You’re in trouble! You’re in trouble!” Terrified, I ran back into the house.

    I didn’t say a word to my babysitter, but she found out about the incident when the mother of the boy I’d punched called to say that I’d attacked him unprovoked. She didn’t quite believe that I’d been goaded into it. When I told my mother about it, she basically shrugged and said, “Boys will be boys.”

    Around the time of the fight, my babysitter’s next-youngest son graduated from high school. For a while thereafter, he lived at home while holding down a job and attending a community college.

    (His bedroom still looms large in my mind as a dark den of mysterious secrets. I was particularly entranced by the bizarre rock posters he had plastered all over the walls.)

    He used to tell me about all of the things I would do when I was a teenager. He told me that I would go out on weekends and drink beer with my buddies and race cars in the middle of the night and spend time alone with the ladies.

    About the latter, he said cryptically, “You’ll have to see how far you can get.” I didn’t understand his meaning until I was much older.

    “Whatever you do, just make sure you don’t end up like my brother,” he told me once. “Work hard, party hard, but don’t let it go too far.”

    (He needn’t have worried. I never did any of those things. By the time I was in high school, I was severely socially inept and morbidly obese. My mother kept me a virtual prisoner in her house.)

    My maternal grandfather, who treated me like a son, died when I was 11. I never recovered from that loss. And I never recovered from having to watch my grandmother fall apart completely during her period of mourning for him. It took her a good ten years to be able to get through the day without breaking into tears at regular intervals.

    In my twenties, I justified my slacker attitude by saying, “Look at Grandpa. He worked his ass off all his life, and then he died before he could enjoy his retirement. And then most of his money got pissed away. All of his kids hate each other, and all of them blame their parents for their failures in life. And Grandma devoted herself to him, only to end up getting destroyed when he died. So what’s the use? Screw the idea of having a family. I’m living only for myself, only for today.”

    It took me a long time to realize that I was using the example of my grandfather’s life as an excuse to hide my abject terror at the thought of having to go out into the world and stand on my own two feet.

    Both of my paternal grandparents died before I was born. My father’s mental state deteriorated steadily after he suffered three major emotional shocks: a) learning that his father was in fact his stepfather, b) losing his mother to cancer in his early 20s; and c), two years after his mother’s death, losing his beloved sister to (alleged) suicide.

    The latter incident happened shortly after my parents were married. He was never the same after he came back from the funeral. Their marriage dragged on for four agonizing years, and then imploded completely around the time of my birth. Eventually my father suffered a mental breakdown and ended up as a homeless derelict. My mother taught me to think of him as the absolute scum of the earth. (She once referred to me as his spawn.)

    Again, in my twenties, I used to point to the example of my father as an excuse for not pursuing serious relationships. “My father had so much going for him. In high school, he was a jock and a scholar, the president of the chess club and a standout on the basketball team. And then, in college, he met and married a woman who despised him, who loathed the very thought of him, who taught his son to hate him. This woman drove him (literally) to the brink of madness and then threw him (literally) out onto the street. Do I want to end up like him? Do I want to get married and risk getting screwed over by some castrating bitch? I don’t think so. I don’t need anyone. Ending up with the wrong person is much worse than never ending up with anyone at all.”

    It took me a long time to admit that the thought of never having anyone to have and to hold, of never being loved, of dying alone, really did scare the everlasting s**t out of me.

    My mother hated the responsibility of having a kid, and it showed. On a number of occasions, she told me that she regretted allowing my grandmother to talk her out of having an abortion. But, when the chips were down, my mother did everything that was necessary to retain custody of me.

    At one point my aunt and my uncle (my mother’s sister and her husband) started legal proceedings to have my mother removed as my legal guardian. My grandparents supported their efforts. I actually ended up moving in with them for a while, (My uncle, in particular, always wanted a son. Unlike my other uncle, who is an actual blood relative, he paid quite a bit of attention to me.) Eventually, my mother was able to get me back.

    In the end, I was probably better off staying with my mother. My older cousin screwed up her life even worse than I did. By the time she dropped out of high school, she’d been a drunk and an addict for years. After a string of bad relationships, she had two kids with a black guy and ended up in a miserable sham of a marriage. I haven’t received a sober phone call from her in years.

    My mother was a teetotaler, but she had a string of bad relationships, too. When the boyfriend of the month wasn’t beating up on her, he was abandoning her and leaving her to deal with the emotional wreckage.

    She taught me to believe that love is a sham and that marriage is a joke. In the name of “keeping you from making the same mistakes,” she forbade me to date or even to make friends. She completely screwed up my social, psychological, and sexual development and ensured that my adolescence and early adulthood were spectacularly miserable.

    Through it all, my grandparents were a rock of stability. And they most certainly spoiled me (and my cousin) rotten.

    I once sat down and added up all the “fun” money – not counting such items as meals, clothing, medical care, or college tuition – my grandmother and grandfather spent on me over the years. My conservative estimate was well into the mid-six figures. Grandma and Grandpa showered me with expensive gifts and generous quantities of money.

    My grandmother, in particular, ensured that I never left her house without a twenty-dollar bill in my pocket. Sometimes she would give me fifty; on rare occasions, a hundred.

    So I ended up with a warped conception of money. As a child, I always had enough to buy all of the petty possessions that I craved. I developed a massive sense of entitlement. All of this culminated in my receiving and then basically squandering a sizable inheritance in my early 20s.

    My mother often hit me up for some of this money. (In so doing, she taught me another valuable lesson: Given the chance, a woman will bleed you dry.) She resented the fact that my grandparents were so generous toward me.

    “Grandma and Grandpa never gave me anything when I was a kid,” she whined. “I practically starved to death when I was putting myself through college.”

    My mother always complained that my grandparents never did anything for her, even though they provided her with generous assistance. Whatever they did was never enough.

    Against my grandfather’s advice, my mother majored in English, French, German, and education. She completed a master’s degree in English literature. (She pursued a Ph.D. but never completed her dissertation.) Then she complained that the only jobs she could find were low-paid teaching positions.

    Due to her personal problems, my mother never managed to make a successful career for herself.

    She taught English at the high-school level for a number of years. Her career came to an end after she turned down an advance by a lecherous black principal. He forced her to resign and made certain that the school system would never hire her again.

    (She recently inquired and was told that, yes, her name is still on the blacklist. “Don’t ever call us again,” the secretary told her, and then hung up.)

    Then she taught at a community college (as an adjunct) until she burned her bridges there, as well. (Years later, after the brouhaha died down, she managed to worm her way back in, part-time.)

    Then my grandfather put her on the payroll at his company. He kept her on for years, providing her with a generous salary and full benefits, even though her attendance and performance were spotty at best. All the while, she moaned and groaned about the work conditions: “He works like me a dog. And he doesn’t even give me a company car. I have to pay for my own gas.”

    Both of her siblings worked for their father, as well. They took over the company after he died and ran it straight into the ground.

    My mother encouraged me to cultivate a victim mentality. With a straight face, she used to tell me things like, “We live in abject poverty, and Grandpa and Grandma don’t even care. They’re practically letting us starve.” (We ate dinner at their house all the time.)

    Keep in mind that, despite living in “abject poverty,” my mother owned two houses. We used to fly – not drive, but fly – about 300 miles to her other house about once a month. We traveled throughout Florida and visited numerous cities around the country, mostly in the Northeast.

    My mother always encouraged me to think of myself as poor. So I was stunned when, one day, a high-school acquaintance of mine told me that everyone thought of me as a spoiled brat. “You complain about ‘snotty rich kids,’ but what the f**k do you think you are? You wear expensive clothes and you brag about flying all over the f**king country, and you expect me to feel any kind of sympathy for you? I’ve never even been on a f**king plane or stayed in a f**king hotel in my entire life!”

    “But I don’t even have a car,” I countered.

    “Neither does my mother,” the other guy said. Then he told me to go f**k myself and stormed off, never to speak to me again.

    My mother expressed endless contempt for men. (She blamed my grandparents for her failed marriages. “They never taught me how to find the right man,” she said.) She boasted proudly that she had no need for them.

    “I’m an independent woman,” she always used to say. “I don’t have a man in my life, I don’t need one, and I don’t want one.” But then, when I would ask her for lunch money, she would turn on a dime and say, “Go ask Grandma. She has a husband to support her. I have to struggle all by myself.”

    She used to confuse the hell out of me, until I finally figured out that this is just the way that women’s minds work. They’re strong and independent until they need something, and then they’re sad little lambs who need someone to protect them. Maybe not all women, but a lot of them.

    • Agree: jim jones
  65. I’ve always been fascinated by the role birth order plays in the music world. In any music act with siblings, it usually is the younger sibling who is more talented. Examples: Eddie Van Halen vs Alex VH (the drummer), John Fogerty vs Tom Fogerty, Michael & Janet Jackson (the 7th & 9th out of 9 kids, being vastly more talented than their older siblings).

  66. jim jones says:

    One of my neighbours is the same, she has just had a baby and goes out running every evening.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  67. Anonymous[337] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    sailer doesnt go in the weeds… hes too tall so the lions get him anyway…

  68. @anon

    I’ll take Scott at face value since his posts are so good. But I wouldn’t read much into the birth order “data” from his readers. Better a childhood of painful noogies and wedgies than to have an older brother who fancies himself an “effective altruist.”

    As a fun reality check, bloggers should have to periodically swap commentariats. Steve could get some pickup guys. Scott should spend a week with the gang at Paul “His Name is Chad Whiteguy and Some Black Dudes Just Stomped the Sh*t Out of Him” Kersey.

  69. @Stan Adams

    One more minor note, for clarity: My mother is five years older than my father. They both met in grad school.

    She claims that she was never terribly interested in him, but that he pursued her relentlessly until she basically gave in. (Women love to boast that they have a mesmerizing effect on men, don’t they?) Then she got pregnant and my grandparents pressured them to marry. Then, a couple of weeks into the marriage, she had a miscarriage. (Interestingly, that baby had my exact same due date, just four years earlier.) Then they were miserable for four years.

    She also claims that he was secretly gay. She once told me, “You don’t hate me because of the things that you claim that I’ve done to you. You hate all women. You’re a fag, just like your father. He hated women, too. I think the only reason he married me was to prove to himself that he wasn’t a c**ksucker.”

    This exchange was typical of so many of the conversations I had with my mother over the years, before we finally reached an uneasy emotional equilibrium.

    My mother has always fancied herself something of a clairvoyant. Her “intuitions” have provided me with many occasions for eye-rolling over the years. I am always amazed to learn that some of her friends actually take her seriously.

    A couple of years ago, I was talking about my future, or lack thereof, when she suddenly cut me off: “It doesn’t matter. In the end, you will see that everything that happened was meant to happen, and that things worked out for the best.”

    “I doubt it,” I said.

    “I don’t,” she replied.

    Then she continued: “You will get married eventually. I see a flat-chested girl – not bad-looking, but not a head-turner. Petite, pretty face, mousy-blonde hair. You’re a cold fish, so she’s bound to be pretty frigid. She’ll probably come from a wealthy family. In fact, that might be the key reason why you marry her – for the money. She’ll be more into you than you’re into her, which will suit you just fine. She’ll probably let you walk over her. Her name starts with a K – Katherine, maybe.

    “And I don’t think she’s American. Probably from somewhere in Europe. She speaks English with an accent. When you meet, either you will be over there, or she will be over here. She might be a tourist, or even a student.

    “You’ll be married for a long time – twenty years, give or take. Eventually she’ll cheat on you and you’ll get divorced. But you’ll both be bored with each other by that point, and the kids will be grown, so it won’t really matter. You’re obsessed with divorce, so you’ll probably make sure that you have a good pre-nup. And you’ll probably end up with someone else late in life. I don’t see you dying alone.

    “You’ll have one or two kids. If you have two, it’ll be a boy and a girl; if you have only one, it will be a son. The girl might not be your child – she’ll call you Daddy, and think of you as your father, but she might come from a previous relationship. But the boy will definitely be yours. He’ll look exactly the way you looked as a toddler – blue eyes, curly blonde hair. Absolutely adorable. I see you walking down the sidewalk, holding his little hand. He’s looking up at you with such love and devotion. And you’re looking down at him and thinking, ‘Everything I’ve gone through in life has been worth it, because I ended up with the perfect son.’ And he’ll do well in life. He’ll be smart and successful. Better at math than you were. A little weird, like you, but with more friends.

    “So I don’t worry about you. You’ll be fine. You’ll have everything you want in life. You just have to be patient. Eventually, everything will make sense to you, and you’ll be glad that things worked out the way they did.”

    Maybe she was just trying to be reassuring; maybe she believed it herself. Maybe she’s always wanted to believe that, eventually, I’ll figure out some way to build a decent life for myself.

    Despite our differences, and despite the rage that for so many years prevented me from feeling little more than token affection for her, I don’t think she ever set out to sabotage me. She was just too much of a mess to provide any useful guidance.

    At any rate, I have yet to meet the breastless beauty who will bear my progeny. I’m keeping my eyes open, though.

    (If I’m lucky, I might be able to convince her to spring for a boob job.)

  70. megabar says:

    > If the problem is depletion of nutrients from pregnancy, why would it be “post-partum”?

    That’s a very good question!

    If I had to generate a possibility, it’s that the depression sets in earlier, but isn’t recognized as such. For example, I’ve heard lots of women say that the final few months of being pregnant are awful, but we all expect that — including the mom — because of the physical challenges.

    But after you give birth, you’re supposed to be radiating joy, forming an amazing bond with your child, etc. If those feelings aren’t there, and you’re just depressed, you’ll be left looking for answers.

    That is, the birth may reveal an underlying depression that’s already there. As an anecdotal example, consider that David Duval, a professional golfer, become massively depressed after winning his first major championship. He said that he realized it didn’t grant him any magical happiness, and that left him confused. I suspect he was already depressed before the win, but didn’t realize it because of his drive to get better and win.

    Or maybe the whole theory’s bunk.

    • Replies: @stillCARealist
  71. Thea says:

    I was far less patient with my eldest and learned to let things slide with experience.

    Growing up the only kids in my class from big families were the youngest, apart from a few Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  72. MM says:

    What’s being selected for?

    Perhaps willingness to answer a few hundred questions about their lives and opinions on the Internet?

    I should add that I’ve read his posts regularly for a couple of years now, but I did not participate in the survey.

  73. Thea says:

    Breastfeeding suppressed fertility ‘in the wild’ humans reproduce every two-three years.

    18 months is recommended as the amount of time to replace nutrients.

  74. @Reg Cæsar

    Parents of very large families have it easier than anybody, but only after an onerous initial investment.

    When I log in to Ancestry and view my tree, and I see my great-grandparents (my Dad’s Dad’s parents) had 15 (FIFTEEN!) kids over the span 1900-1926 (no twins or etc. either!), in a modest farmhouse in rural Illinois, I am always amazed. How did they do it? Of course, most of the older siblings had a big hand in raising the younger ones. I’ve chatted with my cousin about it; our conclusion is that, this was back in the days before really no electronic entertainment (even commercial radio did not become widespread until the mid-’20s), so the only “entertainment” was for, ahem, great-grandpa and grandma to “get busy” if you will. They must have loved each other deeply (at least I certainly hope they did) in order to want to be intimate fairly regularly and birth/raise all those kids…the family tree indicates their offspring did really well.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  75. CMC says:

    There’s also a risk aversion or mitigation thing. First borns are first purchases. They get the full audit and title search. Forget what the ratings agency says, we don’t want to _think_, we want to know. Because it’s everything we own progeny wise. Later borns… meh, we’re running a business here, did he cover the checklist minimums?

  76. Yngvar says:

    For example, when I was a child in the 1960s, my being an only child was a subject of widespread envy among other children.

    Growing up my problem with the only childs among my friends was that they got every thing they pointed at, while I had to beg beg beg. Cool friends to have tough. Rounded Link, the legend of Zelda on one of them’s Nintendo, was a major achievement among the flock.

    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
  77. Brutusale says:

    I’m sure birth order has much influence on my family’s particular circumstance.

    I’m one of four male siblings, the second born. My eldest brother is 16 months older, and we were essentially raised like twins; my parents had way too many photos taken of the two of us wearing the same outfits. Elder bro was that guy we all knew who excelled at any sport he played and was bright enough, just not as bright as me. By the time we got to high school he was on the normal college prep track while collecting letters and captaincies in four sports, while I was a year behind in the honors program, which meant that I was taking the same core courses (and getting better grades) as him. He attended a factory college on a sports scholarship, while I matriculated at a good uni on an academic scholarship. He’s done fine, working as a middle management drone for a major tech firm and raising three sons.

    The third son arrived 10 years after me. He suffered most in the birth order sweepstakes, as my parents mistakenly thought that a kid born in 1969 could be raised like a kid born in 1957. His oldest brother resented the Hell out of him, and they still have a terrible relationship. The poor kid got a much bigger dose of discipline than his elder brothers, as we were crazy teenagers while he was a kid. He rebelled against anything that carried the scent of his brothers, like Catholic school and Little League. He was in constant conflict with Dad. He also suffered from the same issue as his oldest brother: a young sibling sucking all the air out of the room while he was a teenager. He went to a technical school, then spent the next 10 years bumming around at different jobs. He’s that guy who could always fix anything. He lived with me for a while, then moved to Florida, where he met a nice girl, got focussed, and has gotten to the point where he’s doing quite well as a robotics contractor spending a lot of time at Amazon. He may have the highest IQ of the four of us.

    Number 4 came along eight years later (yes, same parents). I can remember when Mom called my older brother at COLLEGE to tell him she was pregnant. He didn’t believe her. You can imagine how I felt about having a visibly pregnant mother at my high school graduation! My father retired at 59, built his dream house on the Gulf Coast, and retired to Florida with his wife and 14-year old son. The Little Prince, as he is known to his brothers, was proof that people in their late 50s shouldn’t be raising teenagers. The Little Prince grew up with little discipline. He coasted through his crappy FL high school (though he was an All-Suncoast All Star 3rd baseman in baseball), spent seven years in college getting a degree in philosophy, and cast about for a few years trying to find a purpose in life. He also met a nice girl, a concert cellist, married, got a gig as a city official in a decent Central Florida berg, and he and his wife are raising two very bright kids, including the FIRST female born into my father’s side of the family in three generations. The Little Princess is my mom’s reason for living, as after 80 years she was finally able to buy little girl clothes!

    I would posit that there’s no more than an SD between the four of us in IQ. My younger brothers suffered because, even though my parents showed them the same love and care as their elder brothers, they had parents too old and distracted. Normal sibling issues don’t obtain, as my oldest and youngest brothers never lived together. I’m the communication conduit between my siblings, which I believe is because I’m the only one my oldest brother doesn’t resent.

    I see a big issue in my younger siblings’ upbringing being the parenting styles of the specific time. My dad wasn’t from any “I love you, man!” generation, and my younger brothers’ friends/classmates/etc. were. Kids born in the 50s had a far different childhood experience from those born in the 70s. Shortly after dad passed, my youngest brother was. obliquely, asking how I knew Dad loved us. I answered that I never questioned it; a guy willing to invest $45 in 1968 money for a Stall & Dean catcher’s mitt for his 10-year old son’s interested in catching is beyond questioning.

  78. LondonBob says:
    @prime noticer

    I went to boarding school so saw up close and intensely my peer group. Sorry Steve only child’s are less socially adapted and demanding of attention.

    As a younger, and the smartest as I can do maths, of two children I would say schooling and activities are geared towards the elder child. You have to fit in.

  79. Liza says:
    @Redneck farmer

    I wonder, though. Here is reality: no woman should bear more children than her own unique particular body can healthfully support. She is not doing the white race any favors by birthing a bunch of kids that are beyond her own personal health status.

    You must be familiar with the woman in Texas who drowned all 5 of her kids in a psychotic fit. Wikipedia says, “She had been suffering for some time from very severe postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis and schizophrenia.” Her children were aged Noah, 7; Mary, 6; John, 5; Paul, 3; Luke, 2.

    Please, friends – don’t mindlessly repeat how our grandmothers and great-grandmothers had 10-15 kids or whatever. In general, these women were healthier and tougher. It is not the fault of any one individual woman that we as an entire race are degenerating and it’s not her job to prove that, hey, she is somehow “different” and all we dissolving white people need to do is churn out a bunch of kids. Just dosing yourself with more and more Omega 3 essential fats is not enough, though I thank the persons here who mentioned that nutrient (Muse, Dvorak). There is so much more that is needed. We’ve been sickly and lost a long time.

  80. One reason first born children are healthier and live longer- they had younger mothers and younger fathers.

    Much better to be born to a 23 year-old mom than a 29 year old. Those with a mother under the age of 24 are twice as likely to live to 100. Egg quality declines rapidly after age 25.

    • Replies: @Simply Simon
  81. Spangel says:

    We know that obvious problems such as Down syndrome increase by tenfold from mid twenties to late thirties. Maybe all genetic material degrades in the same way but the results aren’t as obvious as outright missing a chromosome.

    Agree that the right study to do is comparing subsequent children of younger mothers with first children of similarly aged mothers while keeping matched iqs of each group.

    Early maternal investment appears to confer surprisingly few benefits given what we know from adoption and twin studies. I think some studies have looked at the outcomes of children comparing siblings of the same mother based on whether she stayed home or not (with some siblings having a stay at home mom and others not). I recall there was no long term impact.

    The long and short of it is that adoptive tiger mom can’t fix low iq foster kid and illiterate Mexican nanny can’t mess up Einstein baby, barring outright neglect and abuse.

  82. @megabar

    I’d go with bunk.

    Just my own data point, but I had terrible PPD after baby 1. When did it start? As I lay giving birth, I watched my big belly deflate as the baby came out. Quite surreal. The depression (which I’d never had, and didn’t understand) began during that process. I had plenty of support, plenty of money, a kind husband, and great health. Best I can tell is that the PPD was just hormonal adjustment for my now changed-forever body. It lasted about 6 weeks and then I was fine. Thank God, there was no depression after babies 2 and 3.

    • Replies: @megabar
  83. @Bill P

    For me, two kids was easier than one, because they have each other to play with. Even at ages 2 and six months, they’ll play together.

    But all these questions are complicated by the boy/girl dynamics as well as birth order. That’s why Steve says he gets stuck in the weeds on these topics. Too many variables to come to hard and fast conclusions.

    • Replies: @Bill P
    , @Prodigal son
  84. @jim jones

    My sister is a runner. We went to visit her in the hospital last month after she gave birth in the morning and she looked like she could handle a five mile run easy.

  85. @anonymous

    Agreed. He writes well and intrigues me with his lines of reasoning, but overall I can’t read many of his postings without getting a little down.

  86. @Steve Sailer

    Only children spend (a lot) more time with adults, especially during the formative first five years. Of course first borns do too until the other ones come along. I was only until five, and as first of a first only grandchild as well.

  87. @anon

    Alexander’s not banging anything but his keyboard.

  88. Xavier says:

    Could the Flynn effect be partly explained by the decrease of fertility rates in the second half of the 20th century ?
    Less kids = more first childs (in proportion)

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  89. @Stan Adams

    Stan, that was a hell of a narrative. If nothing else, it makes me so glad to have had socially conservative parents. We didn’t have a lot of relatives nearby anyway, but there was none of the drama – absolutely none, and I’m trying to keep it that way in my family, or maybe that is automatic.

    I could comment on a lot of this, and I’d like to, but for now there’s one thing in here I want to say that I never understood. Let me first give the background, as my wife seems worried about the same thing. My wife is always bad-mouthing my single friends, not in front of them, of course, mostly just that they are single, is her problem. Her background tells her: If a guy never got married, he’s not lived the way you’re supposed to – it’s wrong, basically, to her.

    Well, let me tell you, demographics notwithstanding (the way things are going with the slow disappearance of white people), I don’t agree with her, and I think single guys can be of MORE USE to the world. Once the SHTF, and IT WILL, how are married guys, more importantly guys with young children, going to be able to not worry and take the action they need to? It’s up to the single guys that have less to loose and are used to more action, and that’s probably the way it’s always been.

    I’ve had 9 out of 10 of these friends for longer than our marriage. (Yes, I’ve got some married friends, but they are not into as much cool stuff, go figure, right?) It’s not really a big divide, as I just disregard what she says or try to defend their ways of life. Here’s the kicker, and it comes from your comment:

    It took me a long time to admit that the thought of never having anyone to have and to hold, of never being loved, of dying alone, really did scare the everlasting s**t out of me.

    See, I don’t get that. Yes, fear of dying itself is one thing, and I’ve gotten it when I’ve been closer (or thought I was) a couple of times. Why in the heck would someone be worried about just that last hour, or last few days, as in (wife’s words here)?:

    “He could just die out there in that house, and nobody will find him for a few days!” “Uhhh, so what, yeah, it might stink for a day or two, but his brother can come down and get those nice vehicles, though he’ll never get what they’re worth, and sell off his tools. What’s the problem?” I felt really comfortable living alone, and having to live with someone 24/7 again (I’d had roommates before of course) was something I was worried about beforehand. I like girls, but that one dying day, regardless of all religion, just seems like it’s not the biggest problem.

  90. Odin says:

    My father used to say you should be allowed to throw the first one back, since you were just learning. I was the first one. I believe he was joking.

  91. I don’t think anyone has mentioned Judith Rich Harris and The Nurture Assumption. As I recall, she was dismissive of the claims about birth order effects, especially effects outside of the home.

  92. @Frank G

    “How about first children have higher testosterone on average.”

    That explains my sister. She’s in federal law enforcement.

  93. @Autochthon

    Every time I see Tom Petty’s picture my heart aches a little. I grew up on his music, and Mike Campbell’s guitar.

  94. @Prodigal son

    There’s always the exception, Prodigal. I was the last of seven and mother was forty-two. I am now ninety, compete actively in duplicate bridge, do the hard puzzles and Sudoku, don’t need glasses or a cane. All those having mothers 24 or younger should be so lucky.
    As for egg quality declining rapidly after age 25 that holds true for hen eggs but a woman’s ovaries produce new eggs each month.

    • Replies: @3g4me
  95. @Xavier


    That’s a very interesting theory. Would also cover social maladjustment.

  96. Blacks and Mestizos and other non-Whites may be getting an “Adversity Bonus” to boost their scores on scholastic tests such as the SAT.

    Northeastern Asian Americans and Jew Americans and European Americans ain’t gonna get no “Adversity Bonus.”

  97. @Art Deco

    About 2% of the population of Mexico speaks an Indian dialect at home. The share who favor Mixtec is 0.6%.

    What is the figure for the population of Mexico living in Los Angeles?

  98. Frank Sulloway’s book Birth Order is an interesting read. His theory is that first borns are conservative, whereas last borns are natural revolutionaries.

  99. Muse says:
    @Charles Erwin Wilson 3

    A woman with fat reserves rich in fatty acids like omega 3 in the hips and buttocks. This is what the abstract says. Can’t say that I know the specific method and metrics they were using in the study because I did not read the full study, just the abstract.

    Of course, this study on its face looks no different than one that notes a correlation between butter and eggs and heart disease. There is a relationship between the presence of this body type variant in the mother and the IQ of her children. Maybe there is an important metabolic difference that impacts intelligence and body morphology…. then again, anyone spending enough time around my house would find data on IQ, birth order and maternal morphology consistent with both studies’ conclusions; and my wife is not a big ass woman. 🙂

    This is where some big data sets and machine learning might help.

  100. Anonymous[249] • Disclaimer says:

    Barry Obama was born Barry Dunham. All the noise about his birth certificate was likely staged to distract from the fact that his mother and alleged father Barrack Obama Sr. were never legally married, thus undercutting some of the African legend built around Barry by his masters. Kenya was still a British colony in 1961.

    IIRC, surveillance reports (CIA? FBI?) from around 1964 (Barry’s claimed birth year is 1961, real birth year was probably 1960) and released under FOIA during Barry’s time in office refer to the mother as Miss Dunham. Obviously, official reports would refer to the subject by what was considered to be her correct, official name.

  101. Anonymous[249] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    births are close to 50-50 male / female,

    Population-wide, it is clearly true that births are largely balanced (slight surplus of males, who in the past were more likely to die before reaching reproductive age).

    It is less clear that births are as balanced at level of the individual family. There seem to be a disproportionate number of multi-child families with only boys or only girls.

    The dynamics (a) between brothers; (b) between a brother and a sister; (c) between sisters are fundamentally different at all stages. The presence or absence of additional siblings of a different sex is also likely to be of fundamental significance to the development of the other siblings.

  102. Bill P says:

    In general parental happiness decreases with each additional child until four children, at which point it stabilizes or even rises a bit.

    It seemed to me that having more than one was better for the kids in some ways, but not for me. Sure, they play together, but they also fight and scream more. I found the screaming particularly difficult to bear. The messes also seem to grow exponentially with additional kids, and the different ages mean their schedules are not always the same. I remember taking my oldest to preschool while my daughter sat in her child seat screaming like a banshee because she hated the restraints. I had bought my oldest some child hearing protection earmuffs because he hated the sound of toilets flushing and I thought they might encourage him to use the automatic toilets in the preschool without being scared and avoiding them until he peed his pants.

    So as my daughter screamed, my son simply put on the earmuffs and I had to keep driving through this hell. A couple times I had to pull over because I felt like I was about to have a nervous breakdown. Then we’d get to the preschool, and she’d be hollering the whole time there, too. There I am, unshaven and wild-eyed, holding my daughter in one arm while holding my son by the hand. Must have been quite a sight.

    Then I’d have to repeat this to pick him up. Ah, the joys of single fatherhood.

    There were good times, too, of course. And I was always sad when their mother picked them up and I didn’t see them for a couple days. But I don’t know how I got through it and remained sane.

  103. @Captain Tripps

    How did they do it?

    The 1992 book Seventeen Little Miricals , long out of print (the publisher went under), goes into detail about how a middle-class family of 19 pulled it off in Pontiac, Illinois.

    There is also the book and film Yours, Mine, and Ours, in which a widow with eight children marries a widower with ten. And had at least one more. The father was a naval officer, and kept everything running shipshape.

    The Gilbreths were professional efficiency experts, so their case is exceptional.

  104. Anon[131] • Disclaimer says:


    I wish we could replace the word privelege with the word atvantage.

    Its a more accurate term. Stable families and a culture of being not only unashamed of studying long and hard, but proud of it, is an atvantage.

  105. @The Alarmist

    Funny, I had the opposite feeling. I always felt sorry for the only children, even –hell, especially— the spoiled ones. I envied the kids from huge families. Ours was median-sized, so my view was from the middle.

  106. @stillCARealist

    True, our first born was a girl and was 4 when our son was born. She loved having a little brother to play with and she was a big help for us , especially after she turned 5. It was much easier with our second child because she was helpful. I suppose if she was 2 when he was born it would have been more difficult. 2 year olds are difficult , and you always need to be watching them.

  107. megabar says:

    > Thank God, there was no depression after babies 2 and 3.

    …which suggests that there is an external factor beyond your own internal biochemistry. 🙂

    • Replies: @stillCARealist
  108. All 3 of the sample of 3 only children that I knew as a child and adult did well financially and personally. None had any serious problems, last I knew.

    If no one else has mentioned it, another benefit to the only child is that he generally inherits everything his parents leave. That leaves him richer.

    The anecdotal commonality of only children half a century ago leads one to believe that small White families are nothing new. This is interesting in light of all the complaining that goes on around here about White people not having lots of children. Plenty of them didn’t a long time ago.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  109. @megabar

    No, it means my body learned how to adjust after the shock of no. 1. Just like labor and delivery got easier after the first.

    Here’s another reason women will stop at one baby. The first birth is often a trip to Hell and back. Subsequent births will be easier and shorter (often).

    • Replies: @megabar
  110. 3g4me says:
    @Simply Simon

    @97 Simply Simon: “As for egg quality declining rapidly after age 25 that holds true for hen eggs but a woman’s ovaries produce new eggs each month.”

    Incorrect. At birth a female human being has all the eggs (as yet unripened and unfertilized) that she will ever have. Her ovaries generally release one egg a month (although some women, more Africans than others, routinely double ovulate) but none of these are newly-produced eggs. Older mother = older eggs.

    • Replies: @Simply Simon
  111. @Achmed E. Newman

    “lose”, not “loose”. I HATE when (other) people do that!

  112. @Buzz Mohawk

    When/where I grew up, Buzz, there were kids everywhere. This was not just in one place either. I don’t think 1 house in 4 had no kids, but more to your point, as I wrote above, I had never heard of an only child for a long time.

    It has changed a whole lot.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
  113. megabar says:

    > No, it means my body learned how to adjust after the shock of no. 1.

    Maybe, but my point is that you don’t know that. How can you determine if PPD is natural, or a lot of women in the US suffer from something that makes them susceptible to PPD? You can’t.

    As a thought exercise, imagine if everyone in the the US had a mild case of scurvy, and we didn’t know what vitamin C was. Everyone would feel tired after a bit of exercise, and most folks would develop bleeding gums, but they’d all think it’s natural, because it happens to lots of people. Would that, in fact, be natural?

  114. @Sean

    Stats? A 21 year old mother is still very young. I’ve always read the healthiest age to have children is 18-25. Historically (not today because of obesity) the age of menarche was 13-16. Even among the royal houses of Europe who married young the women usually didn’t have their first child until 18-19. Women’s bones aren’t even done growing at 16.

    • Agree: Liza
    • Replies: @Sean
  115. @Achmed E. Newman

    I know you’re right, of course. It has changed a lot overall, and the numbers show it.

    The situation looks unusually bright, though, where we live now. The mode seems to be 2 kids per family of child-rearing age, and everybody is White and married. What a weird town! Year-by-year school enrollment numbers show a slow and steady decline, however, so I know the trend is toward fewer children.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
  116. @Buzz Mohawk

    …Unless everybody is just getting older here and the kids are graduating and moving on. There has been some concern, expressed at town meetings, about attracting young families to keep property values up.

  117. Sean says:
    @S. Anonyia

    It’s in a centenarian study. The healthiest age for your mother is not necessarily healthiest for the you. If you are born to a 16 year old mother, and then father three children before you are 21 you have a significantly improved chance of reaching 100. The healthiest men are testosteronised.

  118. @Yngvar

    I was an only child for 10 years. I didn’t get lots things other children got.

  119. @3g4me

    I stand corrected, 3g4me. But I till stand by my assertion there are exceptions to Prodigal’s post.

  120. @Achmed E. Newman

    About the “dying alone” thing: I spent a lot of time with my grandmother after my grandfather died. Aside from my mother*, no one else in the family had much time for her. So I had a front-row seat to her grieving process. It was long, slow, and painful.

    Losing her husband of 46 years changed her completely. She became a totally different person. Quite frankly, at times I had the distinct impression that she was wallowing in her grief. But I never doubted that the pain was genuine.

    I doubt that I could ever feel that level of devotion for anyone. There is an essential cold-bloodedness to me that makes it difficult for me to form any truly meaningful emotional connections with anyone.

    There have been times in my life when I’ve used and discarded people without too much regret. All relationships are transactions, and sometimes one side ends up getting a better deal than the other. I try not to be a major-league asshole, but sometimes I do a good imitation of a Triple-A one.

    Still, there is always that lingering fear.

    Grandma kept a large portrait of my grandfather in her room. Every now and then, I would see her talking to it, asking it questions. Honestly, it creeped me out a little.

    Before his death, she never went to church; afterward, she went every Sunday. (Her newfound religious devotion lasted about ten years, then slowly faded.) After church, she visited my grandfather’s grave, stopping on the way to buy some flowers. As soon as she arrived at the cemetery, she would fall upon the grave and weep uncontrollably for several minutes. Then, still crying, she would clean the gravestone with a wet towel and polish it with wax paper. After unleashing another torrent of tears, she would kiss the grave and leave.

    When I stayed at her house, I always slept in the room across from hers. Late at night, when she thought I was asleep, I would hear her crying and calling out to him: “Why did you leave me all alone? Why did you leave me, D.?”

    But I could never talk to her about it. When she started crying, she didn’t want you to comfort her; she wanted you to go in the other room and wait until she was done. Afterward, she expected you to pretend that nothing had happened. And she didn’t want to hear about your problems, either. She expected you to be happy all the time, and if you weren’t, she didn’t want to know about it.

    For all her faults, my mother is a very good listener. She knows pretty much everything there is to know about me. And she’s open and direct about her own experiences in life. Like any woman, she lies and she omits and she fudges certain details, and she filters everything through her self-pitying victim mentality. But over the years she’s revealed quite a few uncomfortable truths about herself.

    My grandmother is a terrible listener. Sadly, she never really got to know me on any serious level. She didn’t have the patience for in-depth conversations.

    Grandma is 89 now – senile, blind, almost deaf, and immobile. Sometimes she is vaguely aware that she once had a husband, but most of the time she seems to think that the people around her are her friends from childhood and adolescence.

    *Grandma never learned to drive. More often than not, my mother was the one who ended up taking her to the grocery store or the mall. We got into the habit of going out to eat all the time. So the three of us spent a lot of time together.

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