4,600 Divorces a Day
International news readers will recognize that news reporting in India is frequently concerned with the goings-on of their more populous neighbor to the North, China. This week the Times of India newspaper is reporting that the rapidly rising divorce rate in China is due to mounting social pressures caused by the country’s rapid economic growth and an overall decline in fertility rates across the world’s most populous nation.
The recent Times report states that nearly, 850,000 Chinese couples had applied for a divorce or separation within the first six months of 2010. That figure translates to a staggering 4,600 divorce cases per day. The numbers were up over 10% compared to the same period last year. A report by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs this year also showed that there was an annual increase of nearly 8% in the number of divorces from 2005 to 2009, with 2.5 million couples obtaining divorces in 2009. Annual statistical reports show that the number of couples going to court for a divorce has been on the rise continuously since 2003 when after the revised and simplified Regulation on Marriage Registration laws took effect in China.
Researchers at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences point to the decreasing cohesiveness between married Chinese couples as the main cause of the rise in divorces. Increased wages and social mobility are thought to have weakened the cohesiveness of traditional family ties and that the increased number of marriages between spouses coming from different places resulted in clash of backgrounds and values. Chinese couples are becoming more distanced from their spouses due to work pressure and extra-marital relationships are becoming more common because of the ever-expanding social circles in Chinese society.
It was also noted that family cohesion decreases when couples living far away from home are cut-off from parental advice and guidance. China’s “one-child” family planning policy and resultant childlessness in many homes could also be another cause of divorce, as exemplified by the numbers in urban areas like Shanghai, where a decreasing fertility rate has been accompanied by an equally increasing divorce rate. That more Chinese couples now have higher incomes, more freedom and more money to split up are more factors contributing to the rising divorce rate.