Research Blog #7

“Divorce After 50 Grows More Common”

In Sam Robert’s “Divorce After 50 Grows More Common,” he expands upon the idea that more Americans than ever are getting divorced at an older age. Contrary to the popular evidence which suggests that young age is one of the primary factors for divorce, this study showcases a huge amount of growth in divorce rates among couples over 50 years old. According to the American Community Survey, more than 1 in 4 individuals in this age range reported being divorced in the past year. This seems to chip away at the current notion that length of marriage directly correlates with lower divorce likelihood. One researcher attributes this trend to the fact that many people over 50 are have been in several marriages, which automatically increases their divorce chances. She also notes that marital expectations have changed over time, and the increasing amount of options in the dating world pose a threat. The article then cities several more factors for 50+ divorce: healthy life span, women’s autonomy, and weakening stigma. Conclusively, they don’t necessarily predict an increase in rates, but rather expect a constant level.

I found this source very interesting and controversial because most of the research I have found only blames young age for most divorces. It does not cite any other sources in text, but at the end, I found some related articles also from the NY Times. After reading this, I’m curious about what specific culture changes have made divorce less stigmatized. Why do we feel like we have more options now than a century ago?

“Why Divorce Spikes in March and August”

In this article, Olga Khazan discusses the results of a study done at the University of Washington by Brian Serafini and Julie Brines. Using data from the last 15 years of public records in Washington, they analyzed divorce filings from popularity by month. As shown in their findings from 2001-2015, both months of March and August show significant spikes in quantity of divorce filings. To explain these findings, the authors suggest that Americans plan their divorces around major holidays and summer vacations. Khazan then summarizes their main hypotheses about this logic. First, they cite the difficulty of sharing this decision around the holidays, particularly when kids are present. Next, it could be explained by the fact that they make their final decisions right after a trip or vacation. And finally, some couples might use these trips as a “hail mary” and are disappointed when their problems do not dissipate.

I think this particular article is unique because it brings up factors that I have not encountered or considered before. Instead of investigating specific relationship factors that lead to divorce, they look into the time of year first to find a pattern. Unfortunately, this source does not reference or cite any related sources. This article makes me wonder about how many couples get divorced with kids involved. Also, would these statistics look different in other states?



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