Younger Siblings Are Funnier Than Their Older Siblings, Study Confirms

by Cassandra Stone
Image via Getty/Elva Etienne

Sorry, we don’t make the rules. Most people agree it’s true.

It’s often said that birth order shapes a child’s personality. While there is plenty of research out there to prove that theory, one particular study says that it’s the younger siblings who are the funniest out of the whole sibling bunch.

According to British pollster YouGov, 1,783 adult siblings who were surveyed to assess their personality traits based on birth order has revealed some pretty interesting findings.

Image via YouGov

Of those polled, most agree that youngest siblings are more likely to think they’re funnier than their older brothers and sisters, with 46% of younger siblings saying they believe themselves to be the funniest. Only 36% of oldest siblings believed they were funniest.

Personally, as the oldest child, I think I’m pretty damn funny. My younger sister is also exceptionally funny. Depending on the type of humor one is seeking at any given moment, we both excel at The Funny. Humor is, of course, subjective. But in many families, younger siblings are given more leeway in a variety of areas for a variety of reasons, which could explain their bolder, more confident sense of humor. Or their self-imposed notion of being the funniest. Tomato, tomahto.

The poll also discovered that in British families with more than one child, a clear divide in personality traits emerges. The biggest difference between siblings is the feeling of responsibility, with 54% of first-born children saying they feel they are more responsible than their siblings.

Though it’s important to remember that every family dynamic is different. My sister is the youngest and could pretty much be the poster child for studious excellence and, at any given time about any given matter, is 10x more responsible than I am.

The poll also found that oldest siblings (54%) feel more organized than their younger siblings (43%). Youngest siblings, on the other hand, are more likely to see themselves as easygoing compared to older siblings.

Last year, a study about birth order confirmed something parents everywhere suspect: secondborn children can be harder and get into more trouble than their older siblings. Huzzah! Validation!

Joseph Doyle, an MIT economist, studied tens of thousands of children from Denmark and Florida to figure out if birth order had any effect on the likelihood of a person engaging in trouble in school, juvenile delinquency, or adult crime.

The study found that second-born boys were 20-40% more likely to face discipline at school or in the court system than first-born boys. This tendency for the second-born to be the trouble-maker was far more pronounced among pairs of brothers than when a sister was involved.

There are likely many families who can identify with these results and many who find the opposite to be true. Because family dynamics and personalities vary so widely, there’s no one blanket statement polls and studies can make about birth order. But it’s all incredibly interesting to take into consideration, isn’t it? If nothing else, everyone’s holiday dinner tables have plenty of fodder to battle over — who’s funniest vs. who’s a disorganized jerk. Enjoy!