THE rise of the ‘silver separators’ – divorcees aged over 60 – means many will spend their old age lonely, poor and in ill health, according to new research.
While divorce rates among the total population is on the decline it is increasing among the elderly.
A report by the think tank, International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK) reveals the number of divorcees over 60 has increased by 85 per cent between 1990 and 2012.
By 2037 10 per cent of all divorcees will be aged 60 or more contributing to increased isolation and a greater need for formal care to cope with poverty and ill health Using data on current marriage and divorce rates by age, the total number of people over the age of 60 experiencing divorce will increase from 15,700 in 2012, to over 22,000 by 2037, a rise of 41%.
Individuals don’t expect to divorce so when it happens, many find themselves in very difficult financial circumstances
Since 1982, men over 60’s divorce rate has risen by 0.6 per 1,000 marriages while it has fallen by over 1 per 1,000 marriages across the total male married population. ILC-UK believes the increase could be the result of people marrying later in life who are then more exposed to the risk of divorce at older ages because their marriage is still relatively fresh.
Other factors include the greater financial independence of working women, changes in social attitudes towards divorce and with people living longer, more marriages are likely to end in divorce rather than the death of a spouse.
Ben Franklin, of ILC-UK, said: “A growing number of older people experiencing divorce presents significant challenges at an individual and societal level. “Increasing divorce rates and numbers might result in greater isolation, illness and a need for more formal care.
“Individuals don’t expect to divorce so when it happens, many find themselves in very difficult financial circumstances.
“At any age it is vital that individuals seek out relationship support. The rising number of divorces amongst the over 60s is something that policymakers, charities and services providers should factor-in when considering the potential vulnerabilities facing older people.”
Richard Willets, Director of Longevity, Partnership, which provides annuities and financial packages for the elderly, added: “While divorce at any age is likely to be a painful experience, the older you are the more likely it is to have a negative impact on your health, wealth and general well-being.
“As separation is generally not something that people plan for, they are likely to need the support of their family and friends as well as potentially need more state assistance. Divorce in later life is therefore something that needs to be more fully understood and factored into Government planning going forward.”
The report was debated at an event in the House of Lords yesterday and was published today as part of the ILC-UK Population Patterns Seminar Series, with the support of Partnership.