Will Your Marriage End up in Divorce? May Depend on Number of Siblings You Have, Study Suggests

By Staff Reporter / Aug 13, 2013 12:30 PM EDT

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Siblings come with their perks and its disadvantages - they are constant friends, but also offer a great source of sibling rivalry. However, a new study published Tuesday suggest people with more brothers and sisters are less likely to divorce than only children or those with one or two siblings.

According to the study published by the Ohio State University in a news release, it's not just about having siblings, but it's about how many siblings one has. Each additional sibling a person has (up to about seven) reduces the likelihood of divorce by 2 percent. The conclusion was based on data from 57,061 adults in the General Social Survey, collected between 1972 and 2012.

The paper, "Are There Long-Term Consequences to Growing Up Without Siblings? Likelihood of Divorce Among Only Children," will be presented on Tuesday, Aug. 13, at the American Sociological Association's 108th Annual Meeting. 

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"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," co-researcher Donna Bobbitt-Zeher, an assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State's Marion campus, said in a news release.

"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 explained.

The researchers factored in other variables that could play a role in future divorce, including education, socioeconomic status, family structure, race, age and religion. 

"When we added in all of these controls, nothing took away the relationship we saw between siblings and later divorce," Bobbitt-Zeher said. "None of these other factors explained it away." 

The researchers note that people who are raised with many siblings develop stronger and more pronounced negotiating skills, communicate better and are more adept and considering another person's point of view.

"The more siblings you have, the more opportunities you have to practice those skills," said OSU sociology professor Doug Downey who also participated in the study. 

Tags : marriage, divorce, conflict, study, siblings

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