Bill and Melinda Gates’ divorce reflects Current social Pressures

It’s shocking that Bill and Melinda Gates are getting divorced, but what if Bill sat around and watched TV 10 hours a day while drinking cheap vodka & tonic, and also had a tendency to yell profanely during football games which would confuse their Alexa to set the oven on broil. Bill and Melinda Gates’ divorce reflects Current divorce rates have plummeted among young people even as they have risen among older adults in America. And it’s not just because the population is aging.

After 27 years of marriage, Bill and Melinda Gates are calling it quits. Their high-profile split is emblematic of divorce trends in the United States as a whole. Increasingly, married couples who break up are in the second half of life. Divorce among middle-aged and older adults is so popular now that researchers like me have a term for it: gray divorce.

In the past, many couples would remain in these “empty shell” marriages largely because separations were stigmatized, or couples didn’t believe in divorce.
This phenomenon, which refers to divorce among people 50 and older, doubled between 1990 and 2010, with the rate rising from .5 percent to 1 percent per year, and has since plateaued at this new high. And a generation ago, less than 10 percent of divorces involved a spouse over age 50. Nowadays, though, more than 1 in 4 people getting divorced in the U.S are over age 50.
The growth in gray divorce reflects more than the aging of the population, and is additionally striking given that it’s at odds with the general pattern in the U.S. For the past four decades, the overall divorce rate has been slowly but steadily declining. This modest decrease in divorce reflects diverging trends for younger versus older adults: Divorce rates have plummeted among young people even as they have risen among older adults.
A primary reason why divorce has fallen among people under 39 is that fewer of them get married in the first place, and those who do marry tend to be more advantaged in ways that are protective against divorce. For instance, as marriage has increasingly shifted from a ritual inaugurating adulthood to a capstone experience carried out only after young people complete their education and gain financial independence, the risk of divorce has declined among this age group.


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