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Divorce rate soars among baby boomers: data

Divorce among those in their 50s has increased rapidly, taking up to one-seventh of the total divorce cases last year.

This contrasts with the overall decline in divorce in the country.

According to the Supreme Court and the Statistics Korea, a total of 15,813 divorce cases involving husbands between 50 and 54 were approved last year, up from 11,729 in 2006. The figure also is 13.5 percent of the total 116,858 divorce cases, compared to 9.4 percent in 2006.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare considers people born between 1955 and 1963 baby boomers.

For females, a total of 11,689 divorce cases were finalized last year, compared to 7,628 in 2006.

The report shows that 0.8 percent of the male and 0.6 percent of the female baby boomers are divorcees.

The main cause cited was irreconcilable differences at 42.2 percent, followed by financial difficulties and infidelity. Most divorces were by mutual agreement, with 28.1 percent arranged by the judge.

The Supreme Court noted that more elderly people seek divorce, lifting the average divorce age. The average age of first-time male divorcees was 44.99. a sharp increase from 42.08 in 2005. For women, the average age was 41.13, also about three years higher than 38.56 in 2005.

However, the national divorce rate stood at 0.56 percent, a slight fall from 0.66 percent for males and 0.65 percent for females in 2005.

“It seems that the cooling-off system under which the court suspends divorce procedures for six weeks after filing and recommending counseling is effective in curbing the divorce rate. Still, those in their 50s are unaware of the system and their grudges are stiff from time to time, pushing the divorce ahead,” Prof. Kim Yu-sun of SungKongHoe University told the Yonhap news agency.

“The government needs to take extra attention on the baby boomer couples that hit the rocks. Active counseling as well as other forms of support are needed.”

On Tuesday, the National Police Agency said that suicide rate among male baby boomers has quadrupled in two decades from 1989-2009.

The figure is higher than for any other age brackets, the agency said.

By Bae Ji-sook (
Korea Herald daum