I was reading Mark J. Penn's book, Microtrends, when I came across the chapter entitled "Cougars". I know what a wild large cat like a lion looks like which is called a cougar, but I didn't know that it is a new slang word for women who date younger men like the coo coocha coo, Mrs. Robinson, of days of old.
Penn points out that according to U.S. census data, in 1997 there were fewer than half a million couples where a woman and man, at least 10 years younger than the woman, were a couple. However in 2003, there was nearly 3 million couples where the man was at least 6 years younger than the woman. So what's going on?
It seems that later life divorces, those that occur when couples are in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, are more often initiated by women than men. At that age sex is more recreational than procreational although there has been a 63% increase in 40-44 year old women giving birth in 2004 than in 1994, and a 129% increase in women 45-49 giving birth in that same period of time.
The interesting explanation is that women nowadays are much better educated and more financially successful. These older, successful women are trading success for sexual attractiveness as older, successful men have been doing for centuries before them.