People over 55 are more likely to be unfaithful to their partner than younger people.
A professor at the University of Utah made this claim after his analysis of the General Social Survey, which collects from across the United States over a long period of time to identify shifting trends in American life.
Nicholas Wolfinger’s study suggests that as many as 20 per cent of people older than 55, often referred to as ‘Baby Boomers’, admit that they have been unfaithful to their partner. By contrast, only 14 per cent of people under that age made similar claims.
Over the last 30 years, the overall rate of Americans who admit to having sex with someone other than their partner has remained steady, at around 16 per cent. This statistic, however, “has obscured a startling age-related difference” Wolfinger insists. Since 2000 the rate of unfaithful partners has diverged between older and younger people, he explained.
One consequence of these figures is that “as overall divorce rates have fallen in recent decades, there has been a startling surge in ‘grey divorce’ among the middle-aged”. An increasing willingness to stray “seems to be both the cause and the consequence of a failing marriage” Wolfinger said. Meanwhile, the percentage of younger people who are unfaithful is in decline.
However, it is also possible that these numbers do not provide a fully accurate picture of American marriages. Wolfinger noted that the General Social Survey asks about “extramarital sex” rather than “adultery”. As a result, the number of people who said they have been with others could include those in polyamorous relationships and those who practice “ethical nonmonogamy” he said. This is when someone will have extramarital relationships with the knowledge and consent of their spouse.
Photo by mrhayata via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.