Baby boomers have been setting trends their entire lives. Most recently, the group has inspired what’s being called the “gray divorce” movement. Essentially, as the baby boomer generation entered their 50s, the divorce rate for the 50-and-older crowd skyrocketed.
According to a researcher at Bowling Green State University, who co-authored a study called “Gray Divorce,” Americans over the age of 50 are now twice as likely to go through divorce as people who were the same age 20 years ago.
In fact, in 1990, only about 1 in 10 people going through divorce was 50 or older; today, 1 in 4 people going through divorce is 50 or older. And interestingly, while the economic recession caused the overall divorce rate to decline, it did not have the same effect on the baby boomer generation.
Researchers suggest that there are a few reasons why divorce has become more common later in life.
First, they say women of the baby boomer generation have more financial independence than any generation before them. This could contribute to a higher divorce rate because women are less dependent on their husbands and therefore less likely to stay in a marriage for financial reasons.
Next, interviews with people who divorced over the age of 50 have suggested that an empty nest contributed to the decision to split. A 55-year-old divorcee told NPR that he and his wife realized they no longer had anything in common after their children left the house.
Please check back later this week for the second part of this post, including the third reason researchers say the divorce rate is booming among the baby boomer generation.
Source: NPR, “Older Americans’ Breakups Are Causing A ‘Graying’ Divorce Trend,” Ina Jaffe, Feb. 24, 2014