arious sources indicate that the failure rate for marriages across the country is going down overall. Conversely, the divorce rate has risen in recent years for people over the age of 50 and baby boomers generally.
Why is that?
Pepper Schwartz, a sociology professor and author of a number of family-related books and articles, argues that in many respects boomers are simply different from generations that have both preceded and followed them. She says their “unique social history” accounts for that, with many turbulent forces and trends converging over a two decade-plus span in a manner that has brought about a singular mindset for the boomer crowd concerning marriage, relationships and divorce.
And that crowd is large, which can have an outsized effect on polls and studies. The baby boomers are typically perceived as those Americans born between 1945 and 1964. Reportedly, there are about 79 million people within that demographic.
A Pew Research study indicates that boomers are less conservative about divorce than are their children and grandchildren. Schwartz says that owes to a number of factors, including the following.
First, the collective mindset among boomers was fashioned during their formative years by resistance to the more staid group that preceded them. Anyone remembering the 1960s can quickly conjure up memories and images of war demonstrations, women’s liberation, hippies, free love, communes, a proliferation of drugs, rock and roll music, bending gender roles and a strong questioning of alleged truths and principles.
Schwartz says that this heady mix has led many boomers to question time-honored views about relationships, including marriage.
The higher divorce rate that strongly sets boomers apart from other groups is a byproduct of boomers’ long-term reassessment regarding the “traditional” marriage framework. Many boomers -- even now, in their 50s and beyond and in their second or subsequent marriages -- have obviously concluded that they can live meaningful and productive lives without a married partner as they advance in years.
Schwartz calls such thinking “the boomers’ legacy.”
Source: CNN, "Why are baby boomers so divorce-prone?" Pepper Schwartz, Dec. 9, 2013