Until recently, it would have been fair to say that older people simply did not get divorced. Fewer than 10 percent of those who got divorced in 1990 were ages 50 or older. Today, one in four people getting divorced is in this age group.
It turns out that those high-profile breakups of Tipper and Al Gore and Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger were part of a trend. Baby boomers, who drove the huge increase in divorce that began during the 1970s and persisted through the early 1980s, are at it again. Just as they have transformed other arenas of U.S. social life, boomers are now reshaping the contours of divorce.
The rise in “gray divorce” is a product of dramatic changes in the meaning of marriage in America over the past half-century.