First Advisor

Leonard D. Cain

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Divorce, Older people, Family -- United States



Physical Description

4, xi, 180 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


The purpose of this study was to develop a framework in which the effect of divorce in late life could be examined. Statistics indicate a growing number of persons who occupy the divorce status in late life. Many of these persons enter late life in the divorced status, others are divorced after age 60. This study focuses upon those who divorce after age 60. Although previous work does not shed much light upon late life divorce, it yields a clear picture of the characteristics, process and consequences of divorce for younger persons. Assumptions derived from work with younger divorcing populations provide a basis for the conceptual framework used in this study. A description of who gets divorced, causes, process and consequences of divorce in late life is provided. A model which predicts post divorce adjustment also is tested. Findings affirm similarities between younger and older divorcing persons. Persons divorcing in late life generally were urban residing, had low occupational status, few assets, weak religious and kinship ties. Generally, in this study divorce resulted from a long-standing lack of emotional gratification aggravated by some type of precipitating event. Few subjects perceived themselves to be victims of the divorce; most had ambivalent feelings about getting divorced and mixed experiences during the divorce. The legal, economic, social and psychological consequences are greater for those who resisted the divorce. Those subjects also were less successful in resolving problems and exhibited higher levels of stress subsequent to the divorce. A curvilinear relationship between age and post divorce adjustment was found. Those in mid life (45-65) were affected more adversely than those in later life. Sex, consequences and type of divorce experienced accounted for 49 per cent of the differences found in post divorce adjustment. Overall, the data suggest that: (1) females have more negative divorce experiences and suffer greater negative consequences than do males; (2) managed conflict is an important part of successful adjustment; and (3) society does not recognize the complications presented by late life divorce.


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Portland State University. School of Urban and Public Affairs.

Persistent Identifier