Increase in Divorce Rate Among Couples Over the Age of 50
According to recent research, the overall divorce rate in America has not increased over the last thirty years. The number of divorces has actually decreased or plateaued in every age group except for one: couples over the age of 50. In fact, 25 percent of all divorces in the United States are initiated by 50+ couples, who are members of the baby boomer generation–those born between the mid-1940s and mid-1960s.
Experts attribute the reason for this surge in “older” divorces to changes in social attitudes about aging, marriage, and divorce. For instance, views on how marriage and divorce are perceived greatly differ today than back when most baby boomers were first married. According to one wellness counselor, the complete introduction of women into the workforce and higher educational opportunities have redefined marriage, in that women no longer “have to” get married to obtain financial stability or keep a social status. There is also no longer the social stigma of divorce that used to pressure married couples to stay together no matter what.
In addition, society today does not demand for couples to keep similar lifestyles that the parents of baby boomers had when they were over 50. It’s never been so easy to change major life choices. You can switch careers, buy a new house, move across the country, and even find a new marriage partner with relative ease compared to 50 years ago.
Many couples start to think of divorce when a shared responsibility ends; most commonly, this shared responsibility is their children. When their children grow up and move out, couples sometimes find that they no longer have the same things in common that they once did. Since there is no longer the social pressure to stay together and it’s relatively easy to get a divorce, more divorces happen at this age range than have happened in prior generational groups.