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The Union Dissolution Risk Is Higher if Both Sides of a Couple Have Experienced Parental Divorce

The dissolution risk is higher for both cohabiting and married unions, if both sides of a couple have experienced parental divorce. Parental divorce is also associated with choosing a partner who has also experienced parental divorce.

The study, completed at the INVEST Joint Research Centre, is the first to examine the association between parental divorce of both sides of a couple and union dissolution risk for cohabitation and marriage. Previous studies have focused to examine only marriages and only one union of an individual. The new study looked at the entire history of unions from adulthood to middle age.

– It is important to extend research to cohabitation, as cohabitation has become an increasingly common form of permanent relationship. We would lose important information if we did not study cohabitation, says senior researcher Sanna Kailaheimo-Lönnqvist from the University of Turku.

The study also examined whether the children who have experienced parental divorce are more likely to choose a partner whose parents are also divorced.

The study shows that if in a couple the parents of both are divorced, the union dissolution risk is significantly higher than in a case where neither partner’s parents are divorced, or if only the other’s parents are divorced. The connection is stronger in marriage than in cohabitation. Parental divorce also has a connection with coupling so that the person who experienced parental divorce more often chooses a partner who also experienced parental divorce compared to a person whose parents have not divorced.

However, the findings of the Finnish study show a weaker association between parental divorce and the dissolution of the offspring’s union compared to previous studies on the United States and Norway. In Finland, dissolution risk is double for couples in which each partner has experienced parental divorce, according to the study. In the United States and Norway, dissolution risk in a similar situation was threefold.

– The difference between the studies may be because the studies on the United States and Norway are slightly older and therefore the age groups that were studied were also slightly older. The change in attitudes, for example, a more libertarian attitude towards separations, may have contributed to the fact that the Finnish study shows weaker associations, reckons Kailaheimo-Lönnqvist.

The study took advantage of Finnish registry material and 28,000 couples in the data. The study looked at the relationship history of individuals from ages 18 to 45.

The research was conducted at the INVEST Flagship and the NEFER Academy Project.

The research article