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-   -   Birth Order and Financial Success (http://www.early-retirement.org/forums/f28/birth-order-and-financial-success-48119.html)

Gumby 01-07-2010 06:43 PM

Birth Order and Financial Success
Inspired by Alan's post on the "Why are people poor?" thread, I thought it might be interesting to see whether there is any correlation among our members between birth order and financial success.

In my case, I am the oldest of three, the only college graduate and the most financially successful. I wonder if it is because my mother was able to spend more time alone with me in early childhood, developing my skills, before she was overwhelmed with my younger siblings. For example, I cannot remember her teaching me to read, but I know she did, well before I ever went to school. My brother and sister, by contrast, did not learn to read until they attended school. Perhaps it is that early period spent as an "only child" that benefits us firstborns. What do you think?

freebird5825 01-07-2010 06:53 PM

Youngest of 5.
3 out of 5 siblings with college degrees via all full tuition scholarships.
Financially soundest as far as I know. :whistling:
Best record of long term employment and benefits via former civil service.
I am the only sibling who has married once and never divorced.

Sarah in SC 01-07-2010 06:53 PM

False. I was youngest of three, basically raised by wolves as my parents were busy with other things, but probably would be most successful in terms of net worth. Older sister is in good shape but has three smalls, and she has a PhD. Brother=nada. Mama's boy.

I taught myself to read because I was bored and alone a lot. Started school a year early, plus I was born late in the year. I think the birth order concept does have some merit, though, because my sister had an idyllic childhood until our brother was born.

W2R 01-07-2010 07:02 PM

Like Sarah, I am the youngest of three. My middle brother, George, could buy and sell my oldest brother Bob and me about 5 times, I think. He's older than me, but younger than the oldest. So I voted "younger sibling".

P.S. - - Bob has the highest I.Q. and was the tallest, though. And as for me, well, I was the only little girl. :duh: Bob and George were only 15 months apart (my poor mother!).

audreyh1 01-07-2010 07:07 PM

Eldest child. Highest net worth by far. I'm the only one who went it to a really well paying job with good prospects for windfall profits.

I did get a lot of attention as an older child - especially in terms of academic achievement. 3 of 4 siblings have post-graduate degrees as did both of our parents. All of my siblings are very entrepreneurial, they just don't have careers in areas that pay particularly well. Neither did my parents!


ProspectiveBum 01-07-2010 07:26 PM

I'm the oldest in my family, and the best off financially, by far.

My wife is the youngest in her family, and the best off financially, by far.

In my parent's families, the oldest sib on one side is the best off, and a middle sib on the other is doing the best.

Not sure if there's a strong correlation between birth order and financial success.

Interestingly, I'd say that in all the personal examples above (including my own), the well-to-do sib also had a single marriage partner, who was also a (relatively) high earner, which certainly didn't hurt.

Maurice 01-07-2010 07:38 PM

Youngest of three here, by far the most materially successful.

Your poll responses were difficult to interpret, the descriptions are from an older sibling's point of view. There is no distinction made between a middle child and a youngest child, just oldest or not oldest.

Net-net: Bad poll.

Gumby 01-07-2010 07:43 PM


Originally Posted by Maurice (Post 891760)
Your poll responses were difficult to interpret, the descriptions are from an older sibling's point of view. There is no distinction made between a middle child and a youngest child, just oldest or not oldest.

Since I was trying to determine whether my theory about the early "only child" period might have any merit, the only necessary distinction is oldest or not oldest. But you are right that it could be clearer, so I will make that change.

NW-Bound 01-07-2010 07:54 PM

I am the 2nd in a string of 4. Though we do not share our salaries nor our net worth, I believe my older sister and myself have a bigger stash as it stands. It is just because we are older and been working longer. However, as I am dropping out of the work force, my two younger brothers may be catching up fast. They and their wives are big spenders though.

Moemg 01-07-2010 08:12 PM

I am the third of four children . All of whom have been successful in different ways . I was kind of the tortoise where I just slowly accumulated a lot of money even when I was not making a large salary .My Brother was a very successful attorney for a top Washington firm . My older sister was a Math teacher and then became an administrator and my youngest Sister who is the poorest certainly has the most prestige as she is the head of an international order of nuns .

bbbamI 01-07-2010 08:16 PM

Wow...it looks like I'm the only child so far. By being the only child, this didn't mean I received everything I wanted/needed. It meant my parents knew they could not afford another mouth to feed.

Perhaps I understood the meaning of a dollar when I was young and this enabled me to be financially responsible. Who knows...

Gumby 01-07-2010 08:21 PM

So far the numbers don't seem to indicate any correlation. In that case, I would expect that "not the oldest" group would naturally be larger because there are more of them.

traineeinvestor 01-07-2010 08:23 PM

I am the oldest and have considerably more financial wealth than both my younger siblings combined (although we don't compare numbers, I have enough data points to be quite sure of this). Even adjusting for the fact that I am 4 and 7 years older than them, I have still done a lot better than either of them financially.

There are a number of reasons for this: career choice, being a two income household (at least until recently), living in a place where I only pay 15% tax and not having to spend a small fortune of IVF have all been relevant. I have also done well been lucky with my investments. All these differences, compunded over many years, add up. It's quite possible that my brother will catch up - he works hard, is genuinely good at what he does and is in an industry where successful people can make a lot of money.

Of course, if I FIRE on scehdule this may change.

My mother is the best off of her siblings - although that is something of a guess as they generally have not talked in years. Being the only one who has stuck with a single marriage and avoiding bankruptcy through some really dumb investments and other follies had a lot to do with it.

brewer12345 01-07-2010 08:24 PM

Second oldest of 4 and by far the wealthiest. But 3 of 4 of us have graduate degrees. Only my youngest brother never got past HS. He lives a bit of a fringe lifestyle, but has his own business and seems happy.

NW-Bound 01-07-2010 08:34 PM

Talk about an only child reminds me of another story. And I am in a good mood to tell stories today.

A man walked into a barber shop and sat in a chair to have his haircut. A happy guy, he tried to strike a conversation with a customer in the chair next to him.

"Have you been out to the lake fishing lately?" he asked.

The other man replied, "Nope. Tried fishing once a few years ago. Didn't like it, so stopped."

Not giving up, our friendly man asked, "Have you seen any good movie lately?".

The grumpy man replied, "Nope. Been to the theater once in my life. Didn't like it, so never came back".

After a while, our friendly man tried again. "The weather is warming up. Have you planted anything this spring?".

Again, our grouch replied, "Nope. Tried to plant some roses many years ago. Didn't work, so have not tried again since".

At that point, a car horn was honking outside the shop. Our grouch said, "Sorry I can't keep your company, but my son is waiting outside."

Our friendly man made a last attempt. "Your only child, I presume?".

Goonie 01-07-2010 09:00 PM

I'm the youngest of three, the most financially well off, and the only one that is retired. :)

The oldest sibling went to trade school right after HS, middle sibling went to college and got a B.A. degree, and I went to work.

Oldest sibling is still working in the same field that he went to trade school for. The middle sibling never had any job even remotely related to her B.A. degree, nor any job that paid diddly-squat or had any benefits....until the current one where she's been for about 4 years now. I've had one job since HS, with decent pay and benefits.....and a pension.

Oldest sibling is 62, has no retirement benefits, and plans to keep working for at least another decade....out of need. Middle sibling is 59, and has a job that offers retirement benefits, but has about another 8 or 9 years to go before they can draw a pension.....and needs to keep working to make ends meet. I'm 52, drawing a full DB pension, which the net amount (after taxes & health ins.) is equal to 93-94% of the net amount (after taxes, SS, health ins., etc) of what my wages would be today had I stayed working.

Oldest sibling is still married to the original spouse, and is dual income. Middle sibling is divorced after 20+ years marriage, and was dual income, but is now single income. I'm single, never married....by MY choice....and was always single income.

Oldest sibling spends most of their income, but doesn't spend what they don't have. Middle sibling was always trying to keep up with the Joneses, and has always spent well beyond her means. I've spent a lot...BUT....I've also saved a LOT....and I don't even know who the h*ll the Joneses are!!! ;D

kumquat 01-07-2010 09:09 PM

Five of us blessed our parents. In birth order:

1) BA degree, fairly high ranking civil servant married to another similar
2) BS degree, got to 3rd (from top) level at mega-corp
3) Finished HS, farmer
4) HS dropout, farmer
5) CC graduate, Cdn equivalent of CPA, CFO of midi-corp

In order of net worth (and reasons for it):
2) hard work, attitude, mega-corp stock options
5) hard work, attitude, midi-corp stock options, only one kid
3) hard work, CHEAP
4) hard work, not as CHEAP as 3
1) present value of DB pensions (not much more), no kids

In order of 2009 income:
5) still working
1) DB is hard to beat
3 - 4) tie
2) bad year in the markets

Average income for last 5 years:
2) love those mega-corp options
5) still working, midi-corp did fine
1) DB is hard to beat
3 - 4) tie, don't knock farming

Likely retirement income (based on pensions and assets)
3-4) tie

All of us have a 7 digit net worth if you use the PV of #1's DB pension. Not bad. We do have different first digits. What does it suggest? Nothing that I can think of.

stevenst 01-07-2010 09:35 PM

Gumby: I think you won't be able to reach any conclusions with this poll, but the answers have been very interesting to read.

For me, I am number 6 of 7. 5 of the 7 are step-siblings. I'd guess sister #3 has done the best. After that comes me. 4 of the 7 are or will be financially secure, 3 are or will be struggling.

Tigger 01-07-2010 09:35 PM

I have one sibling and I'm the oldest and the wealthiests.

I wonder if it has something to do with feeling I was in some way the successor of my dad (the first kid in line after the breadwinner), or if my ambition was fueled by an unconscious desire to remain the dominant kid...

While I always aim very high and don't give up until total exhaustion, my sibling gives up much sooner and usually settles for "good enough". His attitude is in a way wiser and he had much less stress, but now his choices in life are catching up with him and causing stress.

Dreamer 01-07-2010 10:02 PM

I am the second of five children. I know that I earned higher than 3 of my siblings during my career. I really don't know how much the baby makes, but he works insane amounts of overtime, so he probably does make higher. The oldest is married to a high earner, who already has a pension from a previous job, that is higher than my previous salary. They do spend on things important to them, but save a lot also. I would think that they would have a higher net worth than we do. The third child is deceased. The fourth child is married, but neither of them have high incomes. I think (have never seen the will) that she is the only child that inherited anything when my step-father died. I have no idea how much or how little that would have been. I think that her DH stands to inherit a fair amount when his elderly mother passes. I have no idea of the net worth of the baby. He talks about financial things quite a bit and I know that he is a saver, but we don't discuss amounts. My DH is still working at a good job. I receive a COLA'd pension that is decent. I finally figured our net worth in retirement accounts and was pleasantly surprised. We don't have near what some people on here have, but way more than I ever expected to have in my life some 25-35 years ago.

By the way, I think that you have to be really careful thinking that you know how much someone makes, unless they tell you or you see it. People would come into our office and need to file for disability and would say how much they hated to do it, because they had such a great paying job. I would look at their earnings record and their earnings would be $20,000 or $30,000. I was shocked to begin with, but for them that was good money. I also had a few people with old overalls and very quiet, that were quite rich when I examined their own/corporate tax returns. They reminded me of the Millionaires Next Door.

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