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Does having more siblings lower your chances of divorce?

Over the years, researchers here in Texas, across the United States and around the world have conducted a multitude of studies specifically designed to determine why it is that so many couples decide to pursue a divorce.

From fundamental disagreements over money and religion to regular disputes over housework and work hours, the work of these researchers has resulted in a very long and interesting list. However, just when it seems as if this list was perhaps nearing the point of exhaustion, researchers at Ohio State University have come up with a novel -- and somewhat controversial -- reason as to why people might divorce: too few siblings.

After examining data gathered on 57,061 adults from 1972 to 2012 as part of the University of Chicago's General Social Survey, the researchers found that the more siblings a person has, the less likely they are to divorce later in life. Specifically, they found that the risk of divorce decreases by two percent for every sibling a person has (up to seven total siblings).

"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," said sociologist Doug Downey, co-author of the study. "Each additional sibling reduces their chances of divorce a little bit."

Why then would having more siblings reduce your chances of splitting from your spouse?

The researchers theorize that it likely has something to do with the development of social skills that can carry over and help nurture a marriage over the years.

It should be noted that the study is being met with a rather tepid response in some academic circles. Here, the primary complaint seems to be that the conclusions are premature at best and that further study is needed.

"It's the first study I know of to have looked at this, but in the social sciences, you shouldn't get too excited about a single study," said one expert at Penn State. "It would have to be replicated multiple times before you can have too much faith in it."

It should be noted that the decision to divorce -- no matter the cause -- can prove to be very difficult for all parties involved. In these emotionally trying times, it's imperative for a person to have an experienced legal professional by their side to handle such matters as child custody, child support, property division and spousal maintenance, while they focus on starting the next chapter of their lives.

Source: USA Today, "Growing up with more siblings could reduce divorce risk," Sharon Jayson, August 13, 2013    

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