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Just Thinking About Marriage Can Make People Less Likely to Commit Crimes


Welp, this might just be the most unexpected benefit of marriage…ever? Dreaming of saying “I do” could keep you from becoming a criminal, new research published in the Journal of Marriage and Family suggests. Yep—researchers from Ohio State University found that teens and young adults who expected to get hitched within five years engaged in less delinquent activity.

For the study, the researchers used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, which included 7,507 guys and gals who were between ages 15 and 20 when their info was collected in 2000 to 2001.

The participants were asked to estimate the likelihood that they would bemarried in five years. They were also asked whether they had committed certain crimes—like oh, you know, property theft, personal assault, drug dealing, and property destruction—since the last time they were interviewed.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Those with higher marital expectationsin 2000 committed less crimes in 2001. On average, the study participants thought there was a 43 percent chance they’d be married within five years in 2000 (that increased to 48 percent in 2001). Obvi, those in serious relationships were likelier to think they’d be married in the near future than those who were unattached at the time of the study.

The researchers hypothesize that young people probably feel like they have to watch their behavior to be seen as husband or wife material. Of course, other factors are at play, too: The researchers note that a person’smental health, level of education, and socioeconomic status could play a part in whether someone was engaging in bad activity.

So next time you’re tempted to buy bridal magazines (even though you’re still single), just tell yourself you’re doing society a solid.

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