Though the average divorce rate in the United States has fallen in the past several years, researchers at Ohio’s Bowling Green University have recently released a paper showing that senior divorce rates have risen dramatically during that same time. Since 1990, the number of married people age 50 or older getting a divorce has doubled, and researchers expect that trend to continue to grow.
In 1990 about 6.9 out of every 1,000 married people aged 50 to 64 got divorced. By 2009 that number had climbed to 12.6 out of every 1,000. Seniors now represent one out of every four people who get divorced every year, while in 1990 they were only one out of every 10.
The study did not attempt to identify the cause of the rise in senior divorces, though it did point to previous research that has investigated the causes of divorce. Along with the decreased social stigma, increased lifespans as well as more women being able to financially provide for themselves have been identified as key factors in the increased divorce rate.
This increased pattern of more seniors getting divorced follows the trend that baby boomers have been living with their entire lives. Divorce rates skyrocketed as the baby boomer generation age, and since they are now reaching retirement age at about 10,000 per day, that rate is expected to increase as they get older. The difficulties associated with retirement may also be a contributing factor, as spouses who are not used to spending all day around each other find it difficult to transition into a retired life.