Sociologists have long thought that having a baby before marriage results in couples having dramatically higher rates of divorce than those who wait and have children after marriage. This difference was often of interest to researchers who sought to figure out what exactly led to the difference in marital success rates.
However, a recent study now indicates there is no difference in the success of a marriage based on whether kids were born before or after the wedding. The study, funded by the nonprofit group Council on Contemporary Families, followed two groups of parents: (1) those who had their first child between 1985 and 1995, and (2) those who had their first child between 1997 and 2010. The two groups were compared against one another, with the researchers looking to see the marital success rates for couples who had kids prior to marriage and those who waited until after.
The study found that among the couples in the earlier group, between 1985 and 1995, those who had a child first and married second were 60 percent more likely to divorce than those who married first and had a child second. This amounts to a dramatic statistical difference and a real area of interest to sociologists. What was even stranger though was that among couples in the later group, 1997 and 2010, the difference disappeared. Those who had a child first and married second did not face an increased risk of divorce, indicating that much had changed over 25 years.
Researchers say that the study indicates that society's view about conceiving children before marriage has changed rapidly and that it is no longer seen as a bad or alarming thing to get pregnant prior to marriage. As a result of the shifting societal view, couples may no longer feel pressure to rush into a shotgun wedding and are thus able to take things more slowly and minimize their risk of an eventual divorce.
Source: “Baby before marriage doesn't increase divorce risk, study says,” by Mary Bowerman, published at USAToday.com.