Are you over 50? Have you been divorced? Many Rhode Island residents will attest to the fact that divorce rates appear to be rising. However, researchers indicate that the divorce rate is specifically increasing among older Americans. As a result, recent studies are examining what is causing this exponential rise in divorce among baby boomers.
Sociologists found that the divorce rate has doubled for older individuals over the past decade. One reason is because many of them have already been divorced. Studies show that subsequent marriages have a 150% greater chance of ending in divorce. Therefore, individuals who married and divorced between their 20s and 40s have a greater chance of ending a second or third marriage after age 50.
Furthermore, a younger matrimony is another risk factor. Studies show that 50 percent of older people who divorced in 2009 had been married fewer than two decades. On the other hand, of those who stayed together, 60 percent had been married for more than three decades.
In addition, a Brown-Lin study found that divorce rates vary among different races. African Americans are 75% more likely than whites to divorce after the age of 50. Hispanics are 21% more likely than whites to divorce. Also, those with a college degree have a 17% lower chance of ending their marriage than those with a high-school diploma.
In 2003, AARP asked divorcés about the reason for their divorce. The survey evaluated 1,148 Americans who had gotten divorced between age 40 and 69. Of those questioned, approximately 27% of individuals listed cheating as a primary cause. However, studies suggest that cheating is the primary reason for divorce in all age groups.
While research is still exploring the factors that contribute to divorce rates, there is hope. Sources say that the rate may fall for younger individuals. A researcher in the Census Bureau's family and fertility statistics branch explains that younger boomers were married in the 1990s, when divorce rates were declining. Therefore, if they were not divorced in their 20s or 30s, then statistics suggest that these persons have a greater chance of staying married longer than the generation before them.
Divorce is a difficult process to deal with. Nobody hopes for a divorce. Nevertheless, the new studies shed light on some of the factors that may be connected to this increasing trend.
Source: Wall Street Journal, "What are the risk factors?" Carl Bialik, March 3, 2012