Grey divorce

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Grey divorce[1][2][3] 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.[4]

In the United States[edit]

Grey divorce was documented in the United States as early as the 1980s,[5] but wasn't labeled as such until around 2004.[6] The phenomenon entered the public awareness with a 2004 AARP study[7] and was further elucidated in Deirdre Bair's 2007 book Calling It Quits containing interviews with grey divorcees.[8] Older couples are responsible for the overall increase in the divorce rate in the United Kingdom.[9] While wives seek divorces at a higher rate than husbands, some have argued that an increase in older husbands' infidelity, facilitated by the development and increased availability of nitrate-based anti-impotence drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra, has led to the divorce increase,[10] though this account has also been disputed.[11] 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.[12]

Statistics on Grey Divorce[edit]

In May 2004, the AARP conducted a study titled the The Divorce Experience: A Study of Divorce at Midlife and Beyond.[13]

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).[14][15] While devoting years to his career a husband may rarely see his family.[15] 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.[16] 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.[16] The stress this change in lifestyle brings can lead to a number of problems,[15] including feelings of resentment towards husbands.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Owen, Rhodri (2004-03-05). "Grey divorce - the 50-something itch". The Western Mail. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  2. ^ "Grey divorce on increase as love dies". Irish Independent. 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  3. ^ Deborah Carr, Ph.D. (2012-11-06).
  4. ^ Kingston, Anne (2010-06-01). "Al and Tipper Gore’s grey divorce". Macleans. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  5. ^ Clift, Elayne (2005-03-06). "Grey Divorce on the Rise". Women's Feature Service. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  6. ^ 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 
  7. ^ Kingston, Anne (2007-01-27). "The 27-Year Itch". Macleans. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  8. ^ Hampson, Sarah (2008-11-06). "The wrinkle in grey divorce: retirement funds". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  9. ^ Sears, Neil (2006-06-12). "Older couples fuelling rise in divorce rates". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  10. ^ Heddeker, Terry Martin (2006-01-01). "Paradise Lost (Domestic Division)". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  11. ^ Leving, Jeffery M.; Glen Sacks (2006-01-30). "'Gray Divorce': men must be wrong". Cincinnati Post. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  12. ^ Kuczynski, Alex (2004-08-08). "The 37-Year Itch". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  13. ^ Montenegro, Xenia (2004). "The Divorce Experience: A Study of Divorce at Midlife and Beyond" (PDF). AARP The Magazine. Retrieved November 2012.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  14. ^ "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). November 15, 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-30. 
  15. ^ a b c BBC News (February 22, 2006). "Japan retired divorce rate soars". BBC News. Retrieved June 8, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b c Faiola, Anthony (October 17, 2005). "Sick of Their Husbands in Graying Japan". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-11-29.