New research led by a team at the CNRS, Hôpital Robert-Debré AP-HP, the EHESS, the ENS and the INSERM has concluded that children who have an elder brother have poorer linguistic performance than those who grow up without siblings.
According to several studies, the acquisition of language in a child with an elder sibling is reportedly slower than a child without any siblings. Additionally, children who only have elder brothers see a considerably reduced linguistic performance.
During the study, over 1000 children were studied from birth for five and a half year. The language skills were evaluated at three separate intervals. The evaluation included tests on vocabulary, syntax and verbal reasoning. The results of this test showed that children with older brothers have on average a two-month delay in language development in comparison to those with an older sister.
The researchers concluded their research with two further hypotheses. The first being that elder sisters are more willing to socialise with their younger siblings. Secondly, the researchers hypothesised that older sisters compete for attention less than an older brother would.
The study led by Naomi Havron, from the University of Paris, states: “The number of older siblings a child has is negatively correlated with the child’s verbal skills, perhaps because of competition for parents’ attention. In the current study, we examined the role of siblings’ sex and age gap as moderating factors, reasoning that they affect older siblings’ tendency to compensate for reduced parental attention. We hypothesised that children with an older sister have better language abilities than children with an older brother, especially when there is a large age gap between the two siblings. We reanalysed data from the EDEN cohort (N = 1,154) and found that children with an older sister had better language skills than those with an older brother. Contrary to predictions, results showed that the age gap between siblings was not associated with language skills and did not interact with sex. Results suggest that the negative effect of older siblings on language development may be entirely due to the role of older brothers. Our findings invite further research on the mechanisms involved in this effect.”