The concept of whether birth order is a determining factor in personality development is not a new one. Although the question of what specific effects birth order has on the individual continues to be debated, I would suggest that most of us would agree that there is “something” there. My focus in this article is not so much on how birth order affects the individual, but what kind of effect birth order might have in the aggregate.
If one assumes that there is some validity to some of the generally agreed upon effects of birth order, than one might also logically assume that the characteristics are much more likely to be manifested in terms of the group, as opposed to the individual. In other words, if the existence of certain characteristics is related to the order of birth, than, by definition, we could expect to see those characteristics as a matter of course in the group to which they are attached. This would mean that whereas “John” might not exhibit the characteristics which are generally observed in others of his birth order, that if one were to take 1000 people of his same birth order the majority would generally be expected to exhibit those characteristics.
Keeping that in mind, I find it interesting to consider what effect, for example, the one child policy presently mandated in China will have on the society of China’s future. I would suggest that this is not simply an idle question, as, in my view, societal changes in China could have wide ranging consequences affecting the rest of the world. Various characteristics have been suggested as being associated with only children and I might suggest that those interested might wish to review those characteristics and attempt to relate them to the question I pose in this article.
On the other side of the continuum, one might wish to consider the effects of birth order on such countries as Pakistan, where larger families continue to be much more the rule. Perhaps a similar review of birth order characteristics, as I suggested in the preceding paragraph, but, in this case, relating to the youngest child, might provide some interesting insights as to the nature of the future actions of Pakistan.
I am not claiming any particular originality in suggesting that demographics play a role in the path a particular society might be expected to take, but what I am suggesting is that there is a difference between a society made up of 18 year old only children, and one made up of 18 year olds with multiple siblings. This doesn’t even begin to address the looming problem of not enough Chinese females to go around, which is a whole different subject of its own.
Even if one only considers the possible ramifications of birth order in the United States one finds that the consequences might be quite significant. Which group is more likely to support authoritarian principles? Which group is more likely to support revolution? Which group “plays well with others”? I’m not suggesting I have all the answers, but perhaps I can provide some of the questions?
In conclusion, I thank you for your interest, and solicit the reader’s opinion on what I have presented.