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What's causing the grey divorce revolution?

Professors at Bowling Green State University in Ohio analyzed census data and data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to determine that the rate of divorce amongst those aged 50 or older has doubled over the past couple decades.

In 1990, out of all divorces, 10 percent involved an individual from this age group. By 2011, that number increased to 28 percent. Sociologists that authored the study have called it the “gray divorce revolution.” But what is causing this significant change?

We can only guess at the answer as relationships are a personal matter, but sociologists have weighed in with their educated opinions. The factors that are often listed include everything from the increased societal acceptance of divorce to the fact that women are making a lot more than they used to. In more instances, women are the breadwinners. Women are also more commonly the spouse that initiates the divorce proceedings.

And of course, there are some couples that chose to “stay together for the kids.” When the kids are gone, a lot of these couples are deciding to split.

Even scientific advancements have played a role, say sociologists. People are able to stay “younger” than their parents seemed to be at the age of 50, and they are taking full advantage of this youthful spirit.

Another factor that may even skew these numbers is the fact that a lot of baby boomers who are getting divorced are doing so for the second or even third time. Sociologists have long concluded that the rate of divorce increases with each additional marriage.

Whatever the reason might be, divorce at an older age includes some different considerations than those for a couple that divorces in their 20s or even 30s. Planning for the future is especially significant when the “future” is just around the corner, which is why experienced advice is ever more important in ending these relationships.

Source: The New York Times, “Divorce After 50 Grows More Common,” Sam Roberts, Sept. 20, 2013

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