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Survey Data Provide Hope for “Gray Divorcees”

Survey Data Provide Hope for “Gray Divorcees”

I recently went through a divorce after being together with someone for 25 years. The choice to divorce wasn’t mine, but the consequences were, by necessity, very personal. To get a better handle on what I had experienced, I turned (of course) to survey data. I began with a piece by M. Tosi and T. van den Broek in the April 2020 edition of Social Science and Medicine, “Gray divorce and mental health in the United Kingdom.” This article explored the mental health effects of divorces in which at least one of the partners was aged 50 or over. Although this kind of “gray divorce” has historically been rare, its incidence is apparently increasing quite dramatically. Good news, I guess – I’m not unique.  Possible explanations for the rise in gray divorce include longer life spans, greater income equality between spouses, no-fault divorce laws, and the growing sense, at least among some, that marriage is not necessarily a life-long commitment. Tosi and van den Broek’s goal was to track self-reported mental health conditions prior to, during, and after divorce. They were keen to learn whether and how long it took for respondents to regain the mental health “baseline” they had experienced two years prior to their marriage’s dissolution.                               The researchers used survey data from nine waves of the UK Household Longitudinal Study, which questioned the same over-16 individuals from 40,000 households in 2009, 2010-2017, and 2018. For this particular study, Tosi and van den Broek selected only those respondents  aged 50 and over who reported a divorce...