LA Times 13 August 2013
People who grow up with lots of siblings are more likely to marry — and to stay married — than are only children or those who grew up with one or two siblings, a new study has found.
Those of us who grew up in big families may get more practice suppressing the urge to strangle a bullying older brother in his sleep, or to stick an annoying little sister’s head in the toilet — a useful exercise for sustaining a marital relationship. We may be more skilled in creating alliances with siblings when adversity outside or elsewhere in the family mounts. And the experience of never having the house to oneself may foster a distaste for being alone.
Whatever the explanation, when it comes to preventing divorce in adulthood, “the more siblings the better,” concluded a group of sociologists from Ohio State University, who presented their research Tuesday at the American Sociological Assn.
In a sample of 57,000 American adults surveyed at 28 points between 1972 and 2012, the researchers found that just 4% had grown up without any siblings. Of the 80% who had married at some point during the period studied, 36% had been through a divorce.
Among those who had married, each additional sibling a person had was associated with a 2% decline in his or her odds of having divorced. Only-children were not only less likely to marry than those with siblings; they were more likely to have divorced.