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The order in which children are born into the nuclear family has significance in religious, monarchical, legal, financial, and other social systems. These distal forces may result in internal conflict concerning hierarchy, succession, and inheritance. Consequently, the topic has been the subject of historical, sociological, and psychological research. This entry begins with a historical overview of the significance of birth order, including the law of primogeniture. It continues with a discussion of theories about the effect of birth order on personality and intelligence and ends with a brief section about sibling rivalry.

Historical Overview

Traditionally, for poorer families, the order of birth of children has been less important than the number and survival of children. Egyptian Royal households and Chinese dynastic rulers required slaves and a working ...

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