Antecedents of Gray Divorce: A Life Course Perspective.

TitleAntecedents of Gray Divorce: A Life Course Perspective.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsLin, I-F, Brown, SL, Wright, MR, Hammersmith, AM
JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Date Published2018 08 14
ISSN Number1758-5368
KeywordsAge Factors, Divorce, Female, Humans, Interviews as Topic, Male, Marriage, Middle Aged, Prospective Studies, Retirement, Risk Factors, Socioeconomic factors, Spouses, United States

Objectives: Increasingly, older adults are experiencing divorce, yet little is known about the risk factors associated with divorce after age 50 (termed "gray divorce"). Guided by a life course perspective, our study examined whether key later life turning points are related to gray divorce.

Method: We used data from the 1998-2012 Health and Retirement Study to conduct a prospective, couple-level discrete-time event history analysis of the antecedents of gray divorce. Our models incorporated key turning points (empty nest, retirement, and poor health) as well as demographic characteristics and economic resources.

Results: Contrary to our expectations, the onset of an empty nest, the wife's or husband's retirement, and the wife's or husband's chronic conditions were unrelated to the likelihood of gray divorce. Rather, factors traditionally associated with divorce among younger adults were also salient for older adults. Marital duration, marital quality, home ownership, and wealth were negatively related to the risk of gray divorce.

Discussion: Gray divorce is especially likely to occur among couples who are socially and economically disadvantaged, raising new questions about the consequences of gray divorce for individual health and well-being.

User Guide Notes

Short TitleGERONB
Alternate JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Citation Key8803
PubMed ID27986850
PubMed Central IDPMC6093363
Grant ListP2C HD050959 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R15 AG047588 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R24 HD050959 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States