The number of divorcees over 65 years old has doubled in the span of a decade.
According to the latest census data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), nine per cent of people in that age group had been divorced by 2011. However, during the previous census in 2001, only 4.5 per cent had experienced a ‘silver divorce’ by that point.
An ONS report on the data suggested that one significant factor in this increase could be increased life expectancy and better health. As people live longer and stay active later, they may be more interested in pursuing a new relationship than previous generations were.
Another possible explanation could be the increase in financial independence among women, the ONS speculated. Women are now more likely to reach retirement age with good incomes after long careers.
During the same time period, cohabitation among older people almost doubled. In 2001, only 1.6 per cent lived with a partner but that number had jumped to 2.8 per cent by 2011.
The report noted that, despite these statistics, the majority of over 65s in the UK – 57 per cent – were married.
Harry Benson is research director for campaign group The Marriage Foundation. He said that “couples are marrying later and the age at which they divorce is going up as a result”.
While there is a definite increase in silver divorces, “the idea that divorce is booming among older people is an illusion”, he claimed.