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Late-Life Divorces Obliterate Retirement Security

October 20, 2016

High divorce rates among Baby Boomers – particularly when the split happens later in life – are causing many of that generation to delay retirement, but women are impacted particularly hard, Bloomberg writes.

Divorces later in life are particularly destructive to retirement funds and could be part of the reason one out of five Americans continues working past the age of 65, Bloomberg writes. That rate is the highest since the creation of Medicare and twice as high as it was in the early 1980s, according to the news service. Meanwhile, divorce rates among people over fifty doubled from 1990 to 2010, according to Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Family & Marriage Research data cited by the news service, even while younger Americans are divorcing less.

Among married Americans over age 62 who never divorced, just 3.4% are “poor,” according to research from the National Center for Family & Marriage Research cited by the news service.

That rate jumps to 16% for single Americans who divorced before turning 50 and 19% for singles who divorced after 50, Bloomberg writes.

The drop in wealth is due to having to pay double the costs, such as rent, house maintenance and utilities, according to the news service. In addition, while married people who have never been divorced receive $22,607 on average from Social Security, singles who divorced after turning 50 are only eligible for $12,092 on average, Bloomberg writes.

Divorces hurt Baby Boomer women much more than men. Among single men who divorced past 50, only 11.4% are poor, but the rate soars to 27% for women who divorced after 50, according to the news service. And women who divorce after 50 are 10% more likely to be working full-time from ages 54 to 70 than those who divorced before age 30, according to a study by economists Claudia Olivetti of Boston College and Dana Rotz of Mathematica Policy Research cited by Bloomberg.

Divorcees thinking of remarrying, however, may want to think twice. While the poverty rate for people who remarry past the age of 50 is only 3.3%, second and third marriages are far more likely to end in divorce, Bloomberg writes.

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the Bloomberg article cited in this story, click here.