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The Roles of the Oldest Daughters and Sons

The Roles of the Oldest Daughters and Sons

The roles of the oldest daughter and son are distinct in many cultures because they are naturally confident, conscientious, and responsible. They often reflect their parents’ attitudes and beliefs and always spend time with grownups. The oldest sons and daughters are naturally perceived as leaders, and their duties or roles replicate this (Black, Grönqvist, & Öckert, 2018). Therefore, the oldest sons and daughters protect and have authority over the younger siblings in many cultures. Some even take the parenting role in the absence of the parents because of the authority instilled in them. The oldest kids are more perfectionists, worry too much, and would put much pressure on themselves to succeed. Therefore, the eldest daughters and sons are naturally the caregivers in the absence of the parents or guardians; they clean the house, cook, and take over other responsibilities for their younger siblings.

In larger families, these responsibilities are recycled. For instance, suppose the oldest child, who often cares for the younger ones, leaves for college or joins a boarding school. In that case, the next oldest kid takes over the responsibility of childcare. If the oldest child were the cook, that role would be taken over by the second eldest child over the other siblings. Further, guardianship is one of the roles allocated according to birth and gender (Lindqvist, Sendén & Renström, 2021). For example, the oldest sons or daughters sometimes take the role of a parent or caretaker for the younger siblings. However, the younger female child is never given this recycled role because she will most likely get married and finally leave the house. Most importantly, the number of children within a family will influence how roles are distributed within that family.


Black, S. E., Grönqvist, E., & Öckert, B. (2018). Were you born to lead? The effect of birth order on noncognitive abilities. Review of Economics and Statistics100(2), 274-286.

Lindqvist, A., Sendén, M. G., & Renström, E. A. (2021). What is gender, anyway: a review of the options for operationalizing gender. Psychology & Sexuality12(4), 332-344.


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The Roles of the Oldest Daughters and Sons

The Roles of the Oldest Daughters and Sons

(1) How are the roles of the oldest daughter and the oldest son distinct in many cultures?
(2) In large families, after the available roles are taken, are the roles recycled?
(3) Give one example of a life role assigned by gender and birth order.

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