Divorcing men increasingly older

09/10/2012 15:00

In 2011 the average age of divorcing men in the Netherlands was nearly 46 years at the time of divorce. In 1991 this was still only 40 years. The number of divorces involving men younger than 40 has fallen, while the number men divorcing at older ages has increased.

Divorcing at older ages

Nearly 31 thousand men got divorced in 2011, around the same number as the average in the 1990s. The average age of men when they divorce has risen in the last two decades, however. It rose from 40 years in 1991 to nearly 46 years in 2011. The number of divorces among men younger than 40 fell substantially, while the number among men aged over 50 rose.  

At the moment one in three men getting divorced are older than 50 years. In 1991 this was still only one in six. The increase is importantly caused by the decrease in the number of married men younger than 40 years, and the increase in the number of married men aged over 50. Not only are couples marrying less, they are also marrying at older ages. The average age of men at marriage rose from 31 in 1991 to 37 years in 2011, the same increase as that in their average age at divorce in this period.

Average age of men at marriage and divorce

Average age of men at marriage and divorce

Increasing risk of divorce for over-40s

Like the absolute number of divorces, the annual risk of divorce of married men has been fairly stable in the last 20 years. In 2011, 9 per thousand married men divorced. The risk of divorce for men younger than 40 was lower in 2011 than around the turn of the century, while that for men in their forties has risen strongly since 1991. For men aged 50 and older, too, the risk of divorce has risen, although it is lower than for younger men.

Annual risk of divorce for married men, by age

Annual risk of divorce for married men, by age

Baby boomers have higher risk of divorce

The number of divorces in the baby boom age group  is nearly twice as high as among 60-64 year-olds in the 1990s. This is largely the effect of the larger size of the baby boom generation. The risk of divorce is still low, at 3.5 divorces per thousand 60-64 year-olds, but it is higher than the 2.4 divorces in 1991.

Jan Latten and Lenny Stoeldraijer