More Siblings May Reduce the Risk of Divorce Later in Life

One study was recently released that may be good news for people who endured years of sibling rivalry, annoying little sisters and obnoxious little brothers. The data comes from the General Social Survey, which spans from 1972 to 2012 and it suggests that each additional sibling that a person has may reduce their likelihood of divorce by a small percentage. According to the study, someone from a family like that in Cheaper by the Dozen would have great odds going into a marriage.

As divorce rates have skyrocketed in the past 50 years, sociologists and psychologists have been searching frantically for signs that could explain these occurrences. It is undeniable that no two divorces are alike, because every family and marriage is unique individuals. However, there are several factors that have been found to be similar in most divorce, usually concerning an individual’s family background and sociological background. The most recent possible factor discovered has to do with how many siblings a person grew up with.

Ohio State University sociologist, Doug Downey, co-authored the study and claims that the findings are compelling enough to look into further. According to the survey results, each additional sibling reduces a person’s chances for divorce by approximately 2 percent. The study, as mentioned before, was conducted over a span of 40 years and included data from almost 60,000 adult Americans.

Why would siblings have anything to do with someone’s chances of a lasting marriage? The survey authors claim that growing up with more brothers and sisters helps one develop social skills from an early age that can help with navigating the rocky times of a marriage. Obviously, sibling relationships not always a walk in the park but one this is true for all siblings – you can never get rid of a brother or sister. In light of this, then, the only thing left to do is suffer through the conflicts and come to an eventual resolution or compromise – something that many psychologist and counselors try and push couples to do before resorting to divorce.

Others in this field of study have yet to be convinced. While acknowledging the plausibility of such a theory, critics of the survey results want to see more data backing up the claim that bigger families may reduce the likelihood of divorce. A demographer from Pennsylvania State University Park speaks for this group by criticizing the underlying implications that only children are at a disadvantage when it comes to marriage. While this study may produce results to suggest such an idea, others in the past have found that only children do not differ from others in social patters and interactions, which would include marriage relationships. The danger of using studies and surveys to make conclusions about human behavior is that collecting individuals into groups based on categories eliminates the fact that they are just that – individuals.