Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science




Practically since the advent of modern science, researchers have been interested in the social consequences of birth order. As early as 1874, Galton (1874) commented on the preponderance of first borns among English scientists. Since then there has been continued interest in the subject, although for a period of time between the 1930's and the 1950's the study of birth order was neglected, primarily because the rash of studies undertaken in the 1930's had left such inconclusive and conflicting results. Jones (1931) reviewed over 250 studies which had been conducted since 1881. These studies focused primarily on two aspects of the outcome of ordinal position: physical traits and the incidence of disease. However, Jones was also able to list 88 studies which dealt with birth order and intelligence. Significantly, he concluded that intelligence was not related to birth order. In addition, scholars have studied the relationship between birth order and such outcome variables as prominence, mental illness, delinquency and many more (Chen and Cobb, 1960; Ellis, 1904; Rosenow and Whyte, 1931; Sletto, 1934; Thurstone and Jenkis, 1929). One of the consequences which has been prominently discussed in the literature in recent years concerns the relationship between birth order and education. As will be seen in Chapter 2, many researchers have commented on the overrepresentation of first borns among college students. There are several unexplored aspects of this finding which are of importance for this paper. First, several of the most recent studies have attempted to show that the overrepresentation is simply a statistical artifact, that it does not represent the "real" world.



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Constance Anne Chapman



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170 pages

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Sociology Commons