The Baby Boomers : Gray Divorce Trend Setters
Recently a very important research paper was released by Bowling Green State University sociologists Susan L. Brown and I-Fen Lin, concerning Divorce after Age 50. With the United States having the highest divorce rate in the world (40-45%), divorce and older adults have not been frequent subjects of research. Since the “boomers” generation came of age, the pampered children of a very strong postwar economy have rebelled against the restrictive conventions of their parents and have pushed the limits of their parents’ institutions and traditions.
The Baby Boomers generation has displayed significant marital discord. After 1979 the young baby boomers were responsible for the extraordinary rise in marital instability in the United States. Although the U. S. divorce rates are starting to head downward, the divorce rates for Boomers have doubled since 1990. 1 in 4 couples who are divorcing today are 50 years and older!
A Pew Research study on social trends found that “when it comes to divorce, baby boomers are less conservative than younger generations. 66% of baby boomers say divorce is preferable to staying in an unhappy marriage as compared to 54% of younger adults.
What are some of the major reasons for the large increase in Boomer divorce?
1. Boomers have the economic livelihood and feasibility to address divorce and this rate will continue to rise. It is projected that by 2030, there will be a 25% increase in boomer divorces! About ½ of these Boomer divorces will come from short-term remarriages.
2. As the “Boomer” children leave the “nest”, many older adults realize that their spouse no longer meet each other’s needs in the next life stage. “If Marriage isn’t making me happy, divorce is now an acceptable solution”.
3. When a lack of communication exists between a couple, infidelities contributes to a breakdown and expedites marriage failure.
4. Another big factor is increasing economic independence of women. Many women now do not have to choose between a bad marriage and poverty. They have the means to care for themselves and want happiness and companionship not provided in a loveless or inadequate marriage.
A divorce always results in both an emotional and financial ending. Boomers have shown that, in this era of individualism and lengthening life expectancies, these individuals want to release themselves from unhappiness and uncertainty. Sad but true, more baby boomers will break their marriage bonds and head out to unknown adventures!