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Growing Up with Many Siblings Associated with Lower Divorce Risk

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Aug 13, 2013 06:02 AM EDT
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Unhappy Marriage Linked to Depression (not pictured) (Photo : REUTERS/Steve Marcus )

Growing up with many siblings cuts the risk of divorce, a new study has found.

Researchers from The Ohio State University said that for every additional sibling (up to seven), the risk of divorce lowers by about 2 percent.

"When you compare children from large families to those with only one child, there is a meaningful gap in the probability of divorce," Doug Downey, co-author of the study and a professor of sociology at The Ohio State University, said

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Researchers found that people who grow up in large families are better equipped to deal with stress that comes with marriage than people who were the only children of the house.

"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, learn how to talk through problems. The more siblings you have, the more opportunities you have to practice those skills," Downey said.

The data for the study came from the General Social Survey, which involved interviews with about 57,000 adults between 1972 and 2012. There are many reasons why having siblings lower divorce rates.

"One argument might be that it isn't siblings that matter, but some other difference between large families and small families," Downey said in a news release. "It could have been that small families are more likely to have a single parent, or have some other issue that may hurt children in their future marriage relationship."

Birth order affects people's behavior and intelligence; with older siblings having higher IQ and younger ones being more extrovert.

Other research has shown that children who grow up with many brothers and sisters tend to have poor grades at school.

The present study will be presented the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

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