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More Siblings Means Lower Likelihood of Divorce, New Study Finds


Brantly Millegan - published on 08/15/13

Each sibling a person has reduces their chance of divorcing later in life by about 2%, with the benefits plateauing at seven siblings.

The more siblings you have, the less likely you are to get a divorce as an adult, a new study released earlier this week found. The findings were presented by three sociology professors from Ohio State University at the 108th annual meeting of the American Sogiological Association.

Each sibling a person has reduces the likelihood of divorce by 2 percent, with benefits plateauing with seven siblings.

Doug Downey, one of the co-authors of the study, said that practically speaking there was little benefit to having one or two siblings compared to being an only child. The real benefits came from having three to seven siblings, with the benefit increasing with each sibling. Additional siblings after seven did not bring added benefits, but they didn’t hurt either.

The incremental benefits of each additional sibling was surprising to the reseachers. "We expected that if you had any siblings at all, that would give you the experience with personal relationships that would help you in marriage," said Donna Bobbitt-Zeher, co-author of the study. "But we found that the real story appears to be how family dynamics change incrementally with the addition of each sibling. Having more siblings means more experience dealing with others, and that seems to provide additional help in dealing with a marriage relationship as an adult."

The study followed 57,000 people from 1972 to 2012, interviewing each person 28 times.

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