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Divorce rates are increasing for baby boomers

Photo of Karen Lavin

Have you been divorced? Many Illinois residents will tell you that divorce rates appear to be rising. However, did you know that the divorce rate is specifically increasing among older Americans? As a result, recent studies are looking into what is causing this rise in divorce.

Sociologists discovered that the divorce rate has doubled among older individuals within the past decade. Studies attribute this to the fact that many of them have already been divorced. Research shows 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 succeeding marriage after age 50.

Additionally, a younger marriage is another risk factor. Studies show that 50 percent of older people who divorced in 2009 had been married less than two decades. On the other hand, of those who stayed together, 60 percent had been married for more than three decades. Therefore, the longer a marriage lasts, the more likely that divorce will not be on the radar.

Furthermore, a study found that divorce rates vary among different races. Hispanics are 21% more likely than whites to divorce after the age of 50. African Americans are 75% more likely than whites to end their marriage. Also, those with a college education have a 17% lower chance of divorce than those with a high-school diploma.

Researchers are still considering the factors that contribute to increasing divorce rates,but there is hope. 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. So, if the younger individuals were not divorced in their 20s or 30s, then statistics suggest that these individuals have a greater chance of staying married.

Nobody hopes that their marriage will end. Divorce is an extremely difficult process. Nevertheless, the new studies shed light on some of the factors that may be linked to this trend.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "What are the risk factors?" Carl Bialik, March 3, 2012

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