Divorce of Convenience
As we have noted before, the number of couples divorcing in China has been rising continuously since 2003 when the revised Regulation on Marriage Registration was enacted in that nation. In the first half of 2010 alone, over 848,000 Chinese couples registered for divorce and according to statistics from the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the numbers represent an increase of 10% over the year prior.
Some have speculated that decreasing cohesiveness between married couples resulting from increased social mobility has weakened family ties and led to higher divorce rates. Other point to job pressures and childlessness as factors because the nation’s decreasing fertility rate has also been accompanied by an increasing divorce rate at the same time.
Another clue to China’s rising divorce rate might be found in Nanjing, China where a record 40% annual increase in the number of divorces is believed to be the result of restrictions on home purchases in the city. Government officials have seen large number of couples applying to get divorced due stricter housing rules introduced last year in an attempt to reduce real estate speculation.
The new rules have created a rush to get divorced in Nanjing, even among happily married couples, as they scramble to get more cash compensation, bigger homes and discounted interest rates. The rule change created a situation where married couples get one small house and they have pay exorbitant interest rates if they want to purchase a second home. Couples who divorce can buy two houses at low first time buyer interest rates and then get remarried after the fact. Or, in the case of government subsidized relocations, district government policy dictates each married household qualifies for a 2,500-square foot home but divorced couples double that because they are counted as two households and step up to 5,000- square foot houses.
The lure of bigger homes and even multiple homes has proven to hard to resist for many citizens of Nanjing, and until the government institutes a policy barring divorces of convenience from earning extra perks, the incidence of divorce in the district will probably continue to rise whether couples there are happily married or not.