We have previously addressed the seeming disparity between the increase in “gray divorce” (i.e. divorce involving baby boomers) and the rest of the American population. Our Pittsburgh divorce lawyers have noticed that the rate of baby boomers divorcing is steadily increasing, while the rate of divorce for everyone else is dropping steadily (from close to 50% to, in recent years, down to around 40%).
We had mentioned that some of the causes for that include longer life expectancies, greater economic independence of women, and the greater wealth overall of the baby boomer generation that allowed baby boomers to strike out on their own when they were no longer happy.
Sociologist Pepper Schwartz, in a CNN Opinion article, lays out an alternative argument based on the experiences that baby boomers had early on in their lives. According to Schwartz, baby boomers (defined as those born between 1945 and 1964) came of age during the Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation movements, which attached and overturned traditional gender roles that had previously served as the formation for traditional marriages. Additionally, boomer women were more likely to work outside the home than their mothers. In some cases, women earned more money than their husbands, worked longer hours, and left much of the child rearing to their husbands. While today this is becoming increasingly common, boomer women were the first to take this step. All of these developments changed the “traditional form” of marriage. This step away from the traditional may also have meant that the step was away from the idea of marriage as a permanent and necessary institution.
Schwartz further argues that the fact of the growth in divorce by baby boomers may not be repeated by those twenty- and thirty-somethings currently getting married. Young adults today have grown up in a more restrained, economically tenuous situation, and are more cautious about marriage and divorce, as they experienced the divorces of their parents. In a recent Pew poll, 66% of baby boomer adults polled said that divorce is preferable to staying in an unhappy marriage, vs. only 54% of young adults who agreed with that.
Is Schwartz correct? We will have to see how it plays out over the intervening years. Contact our Pittsburgh divorce attorneys today to discuss your divorce case!