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Divorce Contagious? Your Social Network Could Bring You Down

Jon and Kate Gosselin
Jon Gosselin and wife Kate Gosselin didn't make it. Are their friends next? (AP Photo/TLC, Mark Arbeit) AP Photo/TLC, Mark Arbeit

(CBS) Is your best friend getting a divorce? Watch out, your marriage could be next.

That's according to a new working paper from a trio of researchers at Brown, Harvard and the University of California, San Diego, which found that "divorce can spread between friends, siblings, and coworkers, and there are clusters of divorcees that extend two degrees of separation in the network."

Nearly 50 percent of marriages end in divorce within the first 15 years, according to the Census Bureau's 2008 data.

The study, which relied on data from the famous and long-running Framingham Heart Study in Massachusetts, also found that the more friends husband and wife have together, the lower the chance of divorce.

Having kids doesn't much affect the likelihood of getting a divorce, they found. However, each kid you pop out does reduce "the susceptibility to being influenced by peers who get divorced."

Humph. Tell that to "Jon & Kate Plus 8."

Their recommendation? Work on your friends' marriages, not just your own.

Want to read more? Study has a catchy title: "Breaking Up is Hard to Do, Unless Everyone Else is Doing it Too."

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