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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2018 Aug 14;73(6):1022-1031. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbw164.

Antecedents of Gray Divorce: A Life Course Perspective.

Author information

1
Department of Sociology, Bowling Green State University, Ohio.

Abstract

Objectives:

Increasingly, older adults are experiencing divorce, yet little is known about the risk factors associated with divorce after age 50 (termed "gray divorce"). Guided by a life course perspective, our study examined whether key later life turning points are related to gray divorce.

Method:

We used data from the 1998-2012 Health and Retirement Study to conduct a prospective, couple-level discrete-time event history analysis of the antecedents of gray divorce. Our models incorporated key turning points (empty nest, retirement, and poor health) as well as demographic characteristics and economic resources.

Results:

Contrary to our expectations, the onset of an empty nest, the wife's or husband's retirement, and the wife's or husband's chronic conditions were unrelated to the likelihood of gray divorce. Rather, factors traditionally associated with divorce among younger adults were also salient for older adults. Marital duration, marital quality, home ownership, and wealth were negatively related to the risk of gray divorce.

Discussion:

Gray divorce is especially likely to occur among couples who are socially and economically disadvantaged, raising new questions about the consequences of gray divorce for individual health and well-being.

PMID:
27986850
PMCID:
PMC6093363
[Available on 2019-08-14]
DOI:
10.1093/geronb/gbw164

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