Empty Nest Divorce Statistics

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Updated on April 4, 2022

When children grow, and it’s time to leave their home to go to college or get married, parents are left behind. Although this is a normal part of life, the experience can be painful. Parents often feel extreme sadness or loss, called the Empty Nest Syndrome. Children leaving the nest can be a big challenge to the couple. As a couple recalibrates the dynamics of the household and redefines their roles in the absence of their children, it could bring so much stress and anxiety inside the house. Sometimes, the tension gets worst and may lead to a divorce.

According to the Mayo Clinic, empty nest syndrome happens after the last child leaves home, which can result in divorce. One study from the University of Louisville at Kentucky suggests that the empty nest divorce rate has increased from 10% to 25% of marriages. There are mainly three reasons for this divorce rate. First is the loss of the sense of purpose and source of joy, second is the feeling of despair, and last are the problems that have been brushed under the rug.

How common is empty nest divorce rate in the US?

The US divorce rate among 50+ years old, including “empty nesters” is 10 in 1,000 persons.

According to the 2020 US Census, there are 22.5 million empty-nesters in America, ages 50 years old and above. While some parents enjoy a renewed sense of purpose without their children, many couples experience empty nest syndrome, which may cause the dissolution of their marriage. In fact, several studies show a tremendous increase in the number of divorces among this age group in the past decades.

Which state has the highest and lowest empty nest divorce rates?

Delaware had the highest gray divorce rate in 2017

Delaware’s gray divorce rate was more than twice of South Dakota, with over 13 marriages per 1,000 ending in divorce among women, including empty-nest elderly couples.

South Dakota has the lowest empty-nest divorce rate

According to the U.S. Census Bureau data, there are 13 states with the lowest gray divorce rates, with less than 8.5 divorces per 1,000 women. South Dakota has incredibly the lowest rate, with only 5.1 divorces per 1,000 women.

What country has the highest empty nesters divorce rate?

According to the UN and Guinness, Maldives has the highest divorce rate of all ages worldwide.

Maldives divorce rate is 10.7 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants per year. While the U.S remained at the 4th spot with 4 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants per year across all ages, including the empty-nest elderly. Although China has the highest empty-nest rate with 18 million empty-nest elderly, and 37.17–54.63 million elderly suffering from depression because of empty-nest syndrome, China has a lower divorce rate than these two countries.

Who initiates empty nest divorce more between husband and wife?

Empty-nest syndrome is more common in women.

Several studies show that women are more likely to experience empty nest syndrome than men because usually, women are the primary carer. They are more likely to experience the loss of a role in their children’s lives. Once children leave the family home, mothers start to feel worthless. This may lead to extreme mood swings, irregularities in sleep, hot flashes, and other disturbing symptoms.

According to American Sociological Association (ASA), about two-thirds of all divorces are initiated by women, including women who suffer from empty-nest syndrome. Thus, we can conclude that empty-nest divorce is more likely initiated by women.

What is the most common reason for empty nest divorce?

Unstable marital foundation is the number cause of empty-nest divorce

People usually think that the empty-nest divorce is triggered by the last child leaving. However, most statistics and studies suggest that it all boils down to an unstable foundation of marriage in the very early years. Several marital issues went undetected for many years until the last child left. They would start realizing all past issues that were neglected. They may think they have only stayed together because of their children.

What is gay divorce rate from 1990 compared to 2020?

According to NCFMR, the gray divorce rate has doubled since 1990.

The National Center for Family and Marriage Research found that divorce among 50 years old and above has doubled since 1990 which is closely associated to empty nest syndrome. In 2012, a Bowling Green State University study suggest that the divorce rate for the U.S. population over 50 doubled in those two decades and more than doubled for those over 65. Researchers predict that this rate will increase thrice by the year 2030. And the Journal of Family Issues study in June 2020 found that in people over 50 attitudes shifted to be more supportive of divorce from 1994 to 2012.

The rising rate of gray divorce is happening worldwide.

The explosion of the gray divorce rate is not isolated to the U.S. In fact, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Europe, Australia, and India’s gray divorce rates have been growing over a few decades. Japan statistics show that the rate quadrupled in the past two decades. This rate is often associated to several factors, including but not limited to:

  1. Empty Nest Syndrome
  2. Midlife Crises
  3. Longer Life Expectancies
  4. Infidelity
  5. Money Issues and Finances