A Life Course Perspective on Grey Divorce in Europe

Lívia Murinkó , Hungarian Demographic Research Institute
Zsuzsanna Makay , Hungarian Demographic Research Institute

While relatively few couples divorce in middle and old age, the divorce rate of persons aged 50 and older increased in the US and in several European countries. Despite the growing share of middle aged and older people who experience the dissolution of their partnership, there have been very few studies on the individual antecedents and consequences of grey divorce in Europe. The aim of the study is to examine whether key later life course transitions are related to divorce and union dissolution above age 50 in Europe and to account for related background factors. We use retrospective data on fifteen European countries from the Generations and Gender Survey. We model the risk of union dissolution, focusing on the effect of life course events – retirement, children leaving the parental home (“empty nest”), entering grandparenthood and the death of parents – on the probability of separation and divorce. We also control for socio-economic background, family biography and partnership-specific capital and compare separations below and above age 50. We wish to contribute to a better knowledge of the factors behind union dissolution above age 50 in a number of European countries.

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 Presented in Session 37. Divorce determinants