Report From: science daily
Parents often put their own relationship on the back burner to concentrate on their children, but a new study shows that Love matters because when spouses love each other, children stay in school longer and marry later in life.
Research about how the affection between parents shapes their children’s long-term life outcomes is rare because the data demands are high. This study uses unique data from families in Nepal to provide new evidence. The study, co-authored by researchers at the University of Michigan and McGill University in Quebec, was published in the journal Demography.
The study uses data from the Chitwan Valley Family Study in Nepal. The survey launched in 1995, and collected information from 151 neighborhoods in the Western Chitwan Valley.
Married couples were interviewed simultaneously but separately, and were asked to assess the level of affection they had for their partner.
The researchers then followed the children of these parents for 12 years to document their education and marital behaviors. The researchers found that the children of parents who reported they loved each other either “some” or “very much” stayed in school longer and married later.
“Family isn’t just another institution. It’s not like a school or employer. It is this place where we also have emotions and feelings,” said lead author Sarah Brauner-Otto, director of the Centre on Population Dynamics at McGill University. “Demonstrating and providing evidence that love, this emotional component of family, also has this long impact on children’s lives is really important for understanding the depth of family influence on children.”
Nepal provides an important backdrop to study how familial relationships shape children’s lives, according to Axinn. Historically, in Nepal, parents arranged their children’s marriage, and divorce was rare. Since the 1970s, that has been changing, with more couples marrying for love, and divorce still rare, but becoming more common.
The researchers say that their next important question will be to identify why parental love impacts children in this way.
The researchers speculate that when parents love each other, they tend to invest more in their children, leading to children remaining in education longer. The children’s home environments may also be happier when parents report loving each other, so the children may be less likely to escape into their own marriages. Children may also view their parents as role models, and take longer to seek similar marriages.
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