Sibling Constellation of the Family of Origin and Divorce Risk in Adulthood

Kieron Barclay, Stockholm University
Seymour Spilerman, Columbia University

This study examines whether the sibling constellation of the family of origin of individuals is related to the risk of divorce later in life. The duplication theorem argues that individuals develop role preferences based upon their childhood experiences in the sibling group of origin. In turn, the relative compatibility of pairings of these role preferences between a husband and wife should influence the stability of their relationship. We use Swedish administrative register data and event-history analysis to examine divorce in first marriages. The unit of analysis is the couple. We find that pairings of an only born husband and an only born wife have the highest risk of divorce. Marriages where one of the partners was an only born have the second highest risk of divorce. Different combinations of pairings where both husband and wife come from multi-child sibling groups do not vary in terms of the risk of divorce.

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Presented in Session 73: Family Instability in an International Perspective