Siblings Could Reduce Divorce Risk

A new study suggests that people with more brothers and sisters are less likely to divorce than only children or those with one or two siblings.

Each additional brother or sister a person has (up to about seven) reduces the likelihood of divorce by 2 percent, based on an analysis of date from 57,061 adults in the General Social Survey, collected between 1972 and 2012.

“There are a lot of other factors that affect divorce that are more important than how many siblings you had. However, we’re finding that the number of siblings is a factor,” says Ohio State University sociologist Doug Downey, a co-author of the study. The study was presented last week at a meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York City. “Each additional sibling reduces their chances of divorce a little bit.” The authors suggest that siblings further the development of social skills useful in navigating marriage.

However, others who study divorce and family size say the study – while interesting – is far from definitive. People from large families may be more family oriented, says sociologist S. Philip Morgan, director of the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He says the data from the General Social Survey are “somewhat problematic” for the issue of divorce. “I’m not yet convinced.” he says. “The theory is interesting and plausible but not overpowering.”

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