Baby boomer divorce rate doubles
Does retirement make marriage more difficult?
In 1990, only one out of every 10 divorces were initiated by people over the age of 50. Today, that number has risen to one in four.
According to a study from Bowling Green State University, the divorce rate among baby boomers has doubled within the past 20 years.
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"This surprised us, because the rate for younger people has leveled off," said lead researcher Susan Brown. She offered a few reasons why more couples than ever are calling it quits after 50.
Brown points to remarriage as part of the reason for the over-50 divorce boom, telling National Public Radio:
"Remarriages are at higher risk of divorce than first marriages."
She also says that the workforce has significantly changed for women, affording them more opportunities:
"Most wives are in the labor force, and that provides them with the economic autonomy to be able to leave a marriage that they're not happy in."
But there's another interesting contributor for divorce rates among baby boomers: retirement.
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"We've observed a weakening norm of marriage as a lifelong institution," Brown said. "Now, marriage is much more about individual fulfillment and satisfaction through marriage. And I think that as older adults experience other life transitions--whether it be retirement or an empty nest—it's a chance to pause and reflect, and think about: Is this the person I want to spend another 20 or 30 years with?"
Indeed, a recent study has found that marriage often suffers during retirement. Finance site Skipton Building Society conducted a study among 660 retired people still in relationships. For many of these retirees, the spark left their marriage when they left the workforce.
"Instead of celebrating their new found freedom together, a massive 80 percent discover they don’t share any of the same hobbies and interests," the company said in a press release sent to The Heart Beat. "One in five bicker about a lack of money."Four in 10 of the retirees polled said they had to relearn how to live with each other after the children left home and work commitments ended. Stacey Stothard of Skipton explained:
”Suddenly, when faced with the prospect of spending 24 hours a day together, seven days a week, without work or the children to talk about, couples can find it hard to adjust.”
As for Bowling Green's study, they've predicted that the over-50 divorce rate will continue to climb, due to the aging population.
"We need to look at these people the way we've looked at widowhood," Brown said. "Many need help financially. They had fewer kids, and the kids aren't always nearby, so they more often have to look outside the family for care giving."
Photo: Baby boomer divorce rate / Luis Alvarez/Getty Images
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