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Being part of a large family can come with many blessings and challenges, but new research suggests it also carries the silver lining of decreasing a person’s chances of divorce later in life.
A study analyzed by researchers at Ohio State University found a person’s likelihood of divorce drops by 2 percent for each sibling they have.
No additional protection was found beyond seven siblings, but researchers point out the numbers did not drop either.
The findings are based on data collected from 57,000 Americans between 1972 and 2012.
Co-author and assistant professor of psychology Donna Bobbitt-Zeher said one surprising finding was the lack of significant difference between smaller families and those with only a single child.
“A person’s likelihood of divorce
drops by 2 percent for each sibling.”
“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,” she said. “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,” she continued.
Professor of sociology and co-author Doug Downey said, “Growing up in a family with siblings, you develop a set of skills for negotiating both negative and positive interactions. You have to consider other people’s points of view and learn how to talk through problems. The more siblings you have, the more opportunities you have to practice those skills. That can be a good foundation for adult relationships, including marriage.”
No cause-and-effect findings were included in the preliminary report, which was presented this month at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York City.
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