Move over Gen X’ers and Millennials, the Greatest Generation has outdone you again. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank, at a time when divorce is becoming less common for younger adults, the divorce rate has roughly doubled among U.S. adults ages 50 and older over the past 25 years.
In 2015, 10 out of every 1,000 married persons ages 50 and older divorced – up from five in 1,000 in 1990, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau. Among those ages 65 and older, the divorce rate has roughly tripled since 1990, reaching six people per 1,000 married persons in 2015.
While the rate of divorce is lower among adults ages 50 and older who have been in longer-term marriages, a significant share of gray divorces do occur among couples who have been married for 30 years or more. Among all adults 50 and older who divorced in the past year, about a third (34%) had been in their prior marriage for at least 30 years, including about one-in-ten (12%) who had been married for 40 years or more.
The divorce rate for adults ages 50 and older in remarriages is double the rate of those who have only been married once (16 vs. eight per 1,000 married persons, respectively). Among all adults 50 and older who divorced in 2015, 48% had been in their second or higher marriage.
Although it’s nothing new for mid-life couples to hit a crisis point in their relationships, researchers believe there are a number of factors contributing to the spike in so-called grey divorce.
In a recent article on MarketWatch.com, Lili Vasileff, a financial expert who specializes in divorce financial planning, attributes the lift to an overall increase in longevity, along with a decrease in the social stigma that divorce once held. “They feel more entitled to living fully,” says Vasileff, “They’ve contributed to raising children, they want an emotional journey, it’s their time now. They may have (decades) ahead and don’t want to be unhappy anymore.”