Today’s baby boomers are far more likely to be single than people in their age group were in the past. In 2010, according to an analysis of recent census data conducted by Bowling Green State University, about a third of Americans aged 46 to 64 were single due to divorce, separation or never being married. In 1970, only 13 percent were. That’s a huge difference.
Boomers have always been known for doing things differently than previous generations. Their willingness to be single in middle age, even after a long-term marriage, is no exception. Some reasons for this change include the growing financial independence of women, which enables them to live on their own, less social pressure to be married, a declining stigma against getting divorced later in life and increased life expectancies, which make people more reluctant to stay in unhappy marriages.
While most unmarried baby boomers live alone, about 12 percent live with romantic partners without getting married, which is an increase of 5 percent in the last 12 years. Experts predict that the trend of middle-aged people being single will only increase, as today’s young people, who are choosing not to marry, grow older.
There are both risks and benefits to being unmarried later in life. According to The New York Times, unmarried baby boomers are five times more likely to be poor than married boomers. But getting out of an unhappy marriage can bring joy and new adventure into boomers’ lives. Today’s boomers are an active generation, and many may welcome the opportunity for a new start in life.
The New York Times: “More Americans Rejecting Marriage in 50s and Beyond,” Rachel L. Swarns, Mar. 1, 2012