Skip to Main Content

Strategic Business Insights (SBI) logo

Divorced and Older Than Age 50 Segment Summary December 2015

Source: 2014–15 MacroMonitor

Learn more: MacroMonitor subscribers may contact us to learn more about divorced households' financial attitudes, needs, and behaviors.

Almost 12 million divorced household heads age 50 and older are in the United States: 7.1 million heads are women; 4.5 million heads are men. Many women do not fare as well as do men after divorce for several reasons. For example, women in general live longer than men do, so their financial resources need to last longer; many women are challenged to amass sufficient financial resources to sustain them, because their salaries are not comparable with men's; and many women never stop being primary caregivers, even if they divorce. Of divorcees age 50 and older, men are more likely than women to anticipate a marriage in the coming year—more men than women are likely to remarry. Although many divorcees may struggle financially, opportunities exist for financial institutions to build profitable relationships with these discerning, loyal consumers (both male and female) with targeted offers.


Of divorced household heads older than age 50:

  • The mean age is 65 for women, versus age 62 for men. More divorced men heads are between 50 and 64 (63%) than are women (53%).
  • Almost half of divorced women heads are age 65 years and older (18% are age 75 and older); 37% of men are age 65 and older (5% are age 75 and older).
  • In comparison with 22% of all US households, only 8% of divorced heads have an annual HHI of $100K or higher: 4% of women versus 15% of men.
  • More than twice as many households headed by women (11%) than by men (5%) have adult children who have returned home.
  • More women (27%) support other dependent adults than do men (19%).
  • Only one in ten divorced heads (of either gender) support dependent children, in comparison with one in three US households.
  • In the past two years, roughly 10% of divorced heads have retired, 8% have become disabled or unable to work, and 7% have experienced the death of a close family member.
    • Women are more likely than men to have assumed financial responsibility for an adult, changed their residence, had an income decrease of 25% or more, became disabled, gone bankrupt, or experienced a financial crime.
    • Men are more likely than women to remarry, to fund a major home improvement, or to have received an inheritance.
  • In a typical month, divorced women have a mean disposable income of $334, in comparison with $745 for divorced men; 24% of women versus 38% of men have $500 or more in monthly disposable income.
  • Most divorced women lack financial confidence; only 2% of women versus 12% of men say they are extremely confident.


Distinct differences exist in the types of assets owned by divorced women and men age 50 and older. For example:

  • Women are somewhat more likely than men to own money market deposit accounts and custodial accounts; men are either more likely than or just as likely as all households to own every other type of financial or tangible asset.
  • Women and men have the same ownership pattern for liabilities.
  • Divorced heads are less likely than all HHs to have first mortgages and vehicle loans; total liabilities for divorced heads are lower than for all HHs ($43K, in comparison with $86K). Liabilities average $38K for divorced women and $52K for divorced men.
  • The net worth for divorced men ($390K) is more than twice that for divorced women ($192K).

Financial Relationships

Gender differences exist between divorced household heads age 50 and older with regard to their financial relationships.

  • Almost half of women—and three in five men—have been with their primary depository 15 years or longer; regardless of gender, about 40% would not switch to another depository.
  • Two in five women—and somewhat more than one-half of men—have been with their primary insurance company for 15 years or more. Men are more loyal than women; 38% of men, but only 25% of women, would not switch their primary insurance company.
  • Roughly two in five women and men have been using their primary investment company for 15 years or more. Women are more loyal than men; one-half of women in comparison with 39% of men would not switch to another investment institution.

Financial Attitudes

Divorce brings many changes and some challenges. Among divorced heads age 50 and older, attitudes and concerns differ by gender. In rank order:

  • Women are more likely than men to strongly agree that:
    • Chatting with people I know at financial institutions is an important part of doing financial business for me.
    • Assisted living or in-home-care insurance is important for households like mine.
    • Investments with tax advantages are so complicated that I won't use them.
    • I resent any profits financial institutions make from my doing business with them.
  • Men are more likely than women to strongly agree that:
    • I would never borrow from my retirement plan.
    • To buy anything other than a house or a car on credit is unwise.
    • I am satisfied with my household's current financial situation.
    • I feel qualified to make my own investment decisions.
    • I would rather use an automated teller machine, personal computer, the telephone, or mail than face representatives of financial institutions.


Divorced household heads age 50 and older are a diverse group, and differences between men and women are quite striking. Over one-half of divorced women are elderly, low-resource customers who represent limited opportunity potential, whereas only one-third of men belong to this group—these households prefer to conduct their (mostly transactional) financial business in person. One-quarter of women are responsible, loyal customers with financial needs and, at minimum, some disposable income; almost 8% of divorced women are quite financially savvy and have high resources. In comparison, men are likely in almost equal numbers to fall into one of three types of customer groups: white-collar career workers with financial resources, blue-collar workers (some with reasonably high incomes), and fiftyish men, many of whom are technology conversant but have limited incomes or employment prospects.

To identify and take advantage of the best potential business opportunities, each financial institution needs to analyze behavioral and attitudinal data in consideration of its own particular strengths in products, services, and channels.

Institutions that coordinate their offers with marketing efforts that target divorced, older-than-age-50 households (with a reasonable amount of disposable income) will be able to capitalize on this growing market. The MacroMonitor has the unique ability to provide an in-depth look at these households' complete financial needs to determine product and service potential in consideration of the household's trade-offs and priorities.

MacroMonitor subscribers may obtain additional analysis of Divorced Households age 50 or older, along with a customized presentation with Q&A session, in their offices for a small additional fee. Please contact us for more information.