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Divorce rate rises for the over 60'a

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New figures published by the Office for National Statistics demonstrate that the divorce rate amongst over 60’s has risen, even as it has fallen amongst other sectors of the population. The immediate conclusion is that the formal process of divorce requires the formal process of marriage, and of course attitudes to marriage have changed in the last generation. Those over 60 today are far more likely to have married their partner than say a couple in their late 30’s who may have been together for years without actually going through an official ceremony.

The ONS flagged up some other reasons for the rise – not least of which is the ageing population. There are more people aged over 60 alive now than in previous decades and that will of course bolster the numbers. Other factors include the stigma of divorce being vastly reduced, and increased financial independence for women, which of course gives them more options in case of a failing marriage.

In 1991, there were 1.6 divorces per 1,000 married men over 60. By 2011, the latest year for which figures are available, this had risen to 2.3.

There were 1.2 divorces per 1,000 married women over 60 in 1991, rising to 1.6 in 2011.

The average length of marriage for men aged 60 and over who got divorced in 2011 was 27.4 years, the ONS found. Women over 60 who divorced in the same year had been married for an average of 31.9 years.

With life expectancy on the rise, the ONS said, "even with a small chance of divorce during each year of marriage, marriages are now more likely to end in divorce and less likely to end in the death of one spouse than they were in 1991."

It added that: "The employment rate of women aged 16 to 64 rose from 53% in 1971 to 66% in 2012. This means that women have become more financially independent and are more likely to have built up their own pensions. Therefore, in general, women are now more able to support themselves outside of marriage than in the past."

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