Grey divorce is a term referring to the demographic trend of an increasing divorce rate for older ("grey-haired") couples in long-lasting marriages. Former American vice-presidential couple Tipper and Al Gore's decision to separate after over 40 years of marriage is an example of this trend.
In the United States
Grey divorce was documented in the United States as early as the 1980s, but wasn't labeled as such until around 2004. The phenomenon entered the public awareness with a 2004 AARP study and was further elucidated in Deirdre Bair's 2007 book Calling It Quits containing interviews with grey divorcees. Older couples are responsible for the overall increase in the divorce rate in the United Kingdom. While wives seek divorces at a higher rate than husbands, some have argued that an increase in older husbands' infidelity has led to the divorce increase, though this account has also been disputed. Other researchers have pointed to the increase in human longevity, the cultural values of Baby Boomers, and women's increasing financial independence as potential causes.
Statistics on Grey Divorce
In May 2004, the AARP conducted a study titled the The Divorce Experience: A Study of Divorce at Midlife and Beyond.
Some of the findings consisted of:
Who initiates divorce in later life?
- 66% of female participants initiated divorce
- 41% of male participants initiated divorce
Participants age when divorced
- Age 40-49, 73% of participants divorced in their 40's
- Age 50-59, 22% of participants divorced in their 50's
- Age 60-Older, 4% of participants divorced in their 60's or later
In Japan it is referred to as Retired husband syndrome (主人在宅ストレス症候群 Shujin Zaitaku Sutoresu Shoukougun?, literally One's Husband Being at Home Stress Syndrome). While devoting years to his career a husband may rarely see his family. As a result a husband and wife may not interact extensively and when he retires both can feel they are living with a virtual stranger. This can cause particular stress for the woman who, as society dictated in her youth, is now expected to attend to her husband's every need. The stress this change in lifestyle brings can lead to a number of problems, including feelings of resentment towards husbands.
- Baby Boom Generation
- Mid-life crisis
- How to Survive Grey Divorce: What You Need to Know about Divorce After 50
- Owen, Rhodri (2004-03-05). "Grey divorce - the 50-something itch". The Western Mail. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- "Grey divorce on increase as love dies". Irish Independent. 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- Kingston, Anne (2010-06-01). "Al and Tipper Gore’s grey divorce". Macleans. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- Clift, Elayne (2005-03-06). "Grey Divorce on the Rise". Women's Feature Service. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- Kuczynski, Alex (2004-08-08). "The 37-Year Itch". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-02. "Those professionals, along with people going through so-called gray divorces, point to many factors"
- Kingston, Anne (2007-01-27). "The 27-Year Itch". Macleans. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- Hampson, Sarah (2008-11-06). "The wrinkle in grey divorce: retirement funds". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- Sears, Neil (2006-06-12). "Older couples fuelling rise in divorce rates". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- Heddeker, Terry Martin (2006-01-01). "Paradise Lost (Domestic Division)". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- Leving, Jeffery M.; Glen Sacks (2006-01-30). "'Gray Divorce': men must be wrong". Cincinnati Post. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- Kuczynski, Alex (2004-08-08). "The 37-Year Itch". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-02.
- Montenegro, Xenia (2004). "The Divorce Experience: A Study of Divorce at Midlife and Beyond". AARP. Retrieved November 2012.
- "Retired husband syndromeあるいは「主人在宅ストレス症候群」 [医学・科学関連]" (in Japanese language). November 15, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-30.
- BBC News (February 22, 2006). "Japan retired divorce rate soars". BBC News. Retrieved June 8, 2010.
- Faiola, Anthony (October 17, 2005). "Sick of Their Husbands in Graying Japan". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-11-29.