Psychology of an oldest child v. "baby" moving away

It’s my belief that oldest children tend to gather the self confidence to move further away from “The nest” and be more willing to make long distance moves, while “baby” children are the exact converse. I have no real world anecdotes, just my considered opinion. Am I accurate, to those with RL data points?

Another question: In your opinion, can older kids handle being part of large groups better than youngests, or would it be vice-versa?

I have two brothers, I’m the youngest. I live 480 miles away from my parents, the middle child lives 1,100 miles, and the oldest lives 1 mile away.


The only way to answer this question would be to conduct a study, control for other variables, and determine (with statistical significance) that birth order–and not choice of degree, intelligence, opportunity, finances, ages of the parents, health of the parents, individual personalities, etc–is The Reason people decide to move away or stay close to home. Would such a study even be possible, due to the amount of confounding variables?

Anyway, since this is IMHO–your hypothesis doesn’t hold true for my family. My younger sister and I both attended college roughly equidistant from our hometown. She moved further away for her first job (Indiana to Wisconsin) and then waaay further away (Wisconsin to Texas) for her 2nd job. I was still living close to my mom when my sister moved to Texas. Within a couple years of that, though, I moved waaay far away for work (Illinois to New York).

So my younger sister and I were both equally willing to move far from home, in the end. I’d have liked to get away sooner, but I couldn’t afford a cross-country move prior to that.

I have two older brothers. The eldest moved from New Zealand to Australia when I was 13. The second moved there when I was 18. I moved to a different city in New Zealand where I lived for nearly ten years. During that time, my eldest brother moved back from Australia to New Zealand. I then moved across the planet and now live in the UK.

So the eldest is now closest to home (living in the same city) and I, the youngest, live the furthest away.

It’s not clear what, if any, effect birth order has on development. There are lots of theories but they’re not really easy to test or control for, so the data is inconclusive. There’s lots of pop psychology on the subject but it’s not clear how much of that really stands up to examination.

The popular theories generally have:

First born - Conscientious, Achievers, Reliable
Middle child - Social, peacemaker
Youngest - Carefree, fun-loving, attention seeking

But it’s pretty easy to come up with counter examples for all of these.

As a data point, I’m the youngest and I’m furthest from my parents. My wife is also the youngest and she’s the closest.

I don’t know whether it might be self-confidence or perhaps misguided guilt.

One of my strongest emotional memories as a (youngest) child was figuring out how I might be able to move out of home without effectively deserting my (single, divorced) mother. I envied my older siblings because they could move without consequence, knowing that I remained at home to provide companionship…I would lie awake at night trying to figure out how this dilemma could be overcome and the prospective guilt was really quite overwhelming.

As I said, misguided. My mother actually couldn’t wait for me to move out so she could finally have a life of her own. :smiley:

Thanks all! Non-rigorous pop psych was sufficient for my purposes.

In my family, it was the second child who got the hell out of Dodge at her first opportunity, while the oldest stayed home until she got married. With my own kids, the two younger ones left the nest first, while the oldest has stayed in town.

Both our kids went to college far away, but the youngest one went from there to Germany. My wife and I both went reasonably far away and then further, so it was no big deal.

Do you find that older kids are more comfortable at larger colleges? And “babies” prefer smaller?

Gwiw, I think gender matters, and also the gender mix and also the gender/sibling hierarchy.

Sorry :wink:

Of my in-laws’ children, my wife, the oldest, lives closest to them, and the youngest lives second-furthest (child # 2 is the furthest from the “nest”). But the youngest’s move was purely out of economic necessity, and she and her husband have frequently looked for job opportunities closer by.

There are so many factors that go into where one lives, I find it hard to imagine that there’s any way to meaningfully determine if birth order makes a difference.

Interesting. My gut reaction would be to switch the middle and youngest children around. I know many families where the middle kid is the hell raiser, at least compared to the other two. It’s almost become a truism for me: the first child is the cautious, responsible one, the second child knows no fear, the third finds their own niche.

While statistically there might be some pattern actual indivdiuals will be all over the map (sorry).

In my family, I’m the youngest and live furthest from the parents, and that’s usually been the case. Second oldest lived second farthest. Oldest and second youngest lived in a similar distance away from the parents.

You’ll find exceptions to your theory all over the place.

Sorry! for my purposes:

data point=anecdote

What does this even mean? The plural of anecdote isn’t data. What are you attempting to do with this “data”?

Mark-Unsure why you are getting involved with this but: you’ve never heard the phrase “anecdote doesn’t equal data”?

I’m betting reality is the opposite of your hypothesis, etv78. Do a poll about who lives nearest to look after Mom and Dad, and I’m fairly certain it’s the Oldests who have overwhelming been saddled with that while the younger kids weren’t guilted into staying near enough to help out. Not exclusively, of course, but the lion’s share.

Who pissed in your Weeties this morning?

I’m inclined to agree, now that you point it out.