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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2012 Nov;67(6):731-41. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbs089. Epub 2012 Oct 9.

The gray divorce revolution: rising divorce among middle-aged and older adults, 1990-2010.

Author information

1
Department of Sociology, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403-0222, USA. brownsl@bgsu.edu

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Our study documents how the divorce rate among persons aged 50 and older has changed between 1990 and 2010 and identifies the sociodemographic correlates of divorce among today's middle-aged and older adults.

DESIGN AND METHOD:

We used data from the 1990 U.S. Vital Statistics Report and the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) to examine the change in the divorce rate over time. ACS data were analyzed to determine the sociodemographic correlates of divorce.

RESULTS:

The divorce rate among adults aged 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2010. Roughly 1 in 4 divorces in 2010 occurred to persons aged 50 and older. Demographic characteristics, economic resources, and the marital biography were associated with the risk of divorce in 2010. The rate of divorce was 2.5 times higher for those in remarriages versus first marriages, whereas the divorce rate declined as marital duration rose.

IMPLICATIONS:

The traditional focus of gerontological research on widowhood must be expanded to include divorce as another form of marital dissolution. Over 600,000 people aged 50 and older got divorced in 2010 but little is known about the predictors and consequences of divorces that occur during middle and later life.

PMID:
23052366
PMCID:
PMC3478728
DOI:
10.1093/geronb/gbs089
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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