Even though the divorce rate in the United States has leveled, the rate of divorce among baby boomers has increased over the last two decades. According to a study conducted by Bowling States University, the divorce rate among people age 50 and older has doubled in 20 years. Today, one out of four people age 50 and older are divorced, and in 1990 less than one in 10 people who were age 50 and older were divorced.
Rise in divorce among baby boomers at a later point in life is not explained by one factor but by many. The authors of the Bowling Green study believe that longer life spans and changing ideas about marriage have contributed to the rise in divorces among boomers. In an interview with CNN, one of the authors of the study said that boomers have “high expectations for what constitutes a good marriage” and because of that they look for “self-fulfillment and individual happiness in their relationships.” As baby boomers reach retirement age and are no longer focused on the daily grind of work and on raising a family, many couples realize they have changed as individuals and may not want to spend their retirement with someone who no longer holds similar interests and goals.
For many the choice to divorce later in life provides the personal freedom to accomplish things many thought were not possible otherwise, such as learning a new hobby or traveling to a new place with someone who is equally as adventurous. However, divorce later in life raises important issues like financial concerns and failing health. Traditionally, spouses have relied on each other for financial support and support during illness especially during older age. But, boomers who divorce look to friends and family for that support, and they develop strategies of letting others know about their needs such as checking in with email or by cellphone.
Source: CNN, “Baby Boomer Divorce Rate Doubles,” Greg Clary and Athena Jones, June 27, 2012