As the first generation that experienced high rates of divorce reaches retirement age, the number of older Australians who have experienced divorce at some point in their lives will increase dramatically in coming decades. The effect of the increase in divorce rates in the mid-1970s is compounded by the structural ageing of the Australian population, with the first of the “baby boomers” (those born between 1946 and 1965) turning 60 in 2006. This means that not only will larger numbers of people be entering older age, but also that a much greater proportion of these people will have experienced divorce at some point in their lives.
Divorce is relatively unlikely to occur in older age, with the most common age for divorce being in the late twenties to early forties. Although most divorces occur before people enter later life, this does not mean that these earlier divorces are without consequences for people later in life. One potential impact is financial. There is very little empirical evidence in Australia on the financial consequences of divorce for older people. This report begins to fill this gap by providing some of the first estimates of the financial consequences of divorce for Australians aged 55 to 74 years.