It’s a commonly-held belief that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. According to a recent article in the New York Times, however, that’s no longer the case. After years of harboring a 50 percent divorce rate, the number has begun to decline in America, dropping to just above 40 percent. The trend was observed in all age groups, except for one – baby boomers.
This is a surprising statistic. Many baby boomers in Illinois and other states have been married for years – decades, even. But over the past 20 years, the divorce rate among baby boomers has increased by a whopping 50 percent.
The reasons for this are complex and various. A sociology professor at the University of Washington recently advanced her opinions on the subject, suggesting a number of reasons why baby boomers may be ending their marriages.
One key factor, according to the sociologist, is the time in which the baby boomers were born. Boomers’ parents were part of a more traditional age. The boomers themselves, however, lived through a period of transition. They were part of the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement and anti-war movements. Women’s rights were also addressed during their time, an issue that led many to question the traditional role of marriage in our society.
Even today, as baby boomers reach middle or late-middle age, many are still seeking happiness and self-fulfillment. According to the University of Washington sociologist, this search has led many to end their marriages in favor of the single life.
Medical technology may also play a role. People are living longer than they ever have in the past. Baby boomers in their 50s or 60s may look at their life ahead and safely assume they have 20 or even 30 years left to spend with their spouse. If the marriage is unhappy or unsatisfying, baby boomers are not afraid of turning to divorce and seeking their happiness outside of their relationship.
Source: CNN, “Why are baby boomers so divorce-prone?” Pepper Schwartz, Dec. 09, 2013