"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," says Ohio State University sociologist Doug Downey, a co-author of the study. It is being presented Tuesday at a meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York City. "Each additional sibling reduces their chances of divorce a little bit."
The authors suggest that siblings further the development of social skills useful in navigating marriage.
However, others who study divorce and family size say the study — while interesting — is far from definitive.
People from large families may be more family oriented, says sociologist S. Philip Morgan, director of the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He says the data from the General Social Survey are "somewhat problematic" for the issue of divorce.
"I'm not yet convinced." he says. "The theory is interesting and plausible but not overpowering."
Despite these findings, other studies have shown only children to have adult social skills that are similar to their peers who grew up with siblings.
Image: Big family, via Shutterstock