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Social and Political Sciences Professor Steve McKay Featured in The Express


Professor Steve McKay, from the School of Social and Political Sciences has contributed to a study that has recently been featured in an article about planned pregnancy and it’s impact on relationships. The research, jointly undertaken by the Marriage Foundation and the University of Lincoln, used data from 18,374 mothers in the Millennium Cohort Study and was published to mark the start of Marriage Week. The study explains that less than a fifth (18 per cent) of married parents who planned to start a family had broken up by the time their child reached 14 years old, but almost a quarter (24 per cent) of those whose baby was not a joint decision had split by the same point. Amongst cohabiting couples, the rate of breakdown was almost half (47 per cent) while fewer than two in five (38 per cent) separated if they had made a plan to have children. But the contrast over the first three years of a relationship was especially stark, according to the Marriage Foundation analysis. Only four per cent of married couples whose first pregnancy was planned split up within three years compared to more than 20 per cent of non-married parents who never made it to their third anniversary after not discussing a potential pregnancy.

Professor Steve McKay adds that “Even after controlling for mother’s age, education, ethnicity, marital status and relationship happiness nine months after their child was born, the odds of a couple splitting up before their child becomes a teenager were 28 per cent greater if they had not planned the birth.”

You can read the full article here

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Couples on the rocks find happiness by ‘sticking it out’


Report findings show that over two thirds of parents who were unhappy following the arrival of their first born were content together 10 years on, going against the notion that people put up with unhappy relationships for the sake of their offspring.

Harry Benson of the Marriage Foundation and Steve McKay of the University of Lincoln looked at data from 10,000 parents who participated in the Millennium Cohort Study, and focused on parents who reported being unhappy not long after the birth of their first child during the period around the year 2000. The couples were asked about how they feel again 11 years later, with seven out of 10 still together and only one in 10 of the couples who were still together continuing to feel sadness. Furthermore, over a quarter of the parents who previously felt their relationship was in trouble at the beginning but stayed together later described themselves as “extremely happy”.

From the results, Benson and McKay noted that those pairs who cohabited and were on the brink of splitting up were over twice as likely as married couples to actually break-up. However, they stressed the rewards to come if parents stayed together through the difficult times.

“Contrary to popular belief, staying in an unhappy marriage could be the best thing you ever do,” Benson explained. “Most marriages have their unhappy moments, but apart from the fortunately extremely rare cases where the relationship involves abuse, most couples can work through the difficulties to be happy later on.”

Backing these findings was Marriage Foundation head Sir Paul Coleridge, who describes the results as “myth-busting” as it proves a couple going through a rocky time as they adjust to parenthood doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t make it through to the other end.

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