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Divorces up 63% in past decade

Updated: 2016-07-13 07:58
By Chen Mengwei (China Daily)

Expert says increase partly due to changes in property law; divorce 'should not be demonized'

Increasing numbers of married couples have sought divorce in China in recent years, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The ministry published China's divorce rates from the past eight years in its latest bulletin on the development of social services in 2015. The index has been steadily climbing each year. In 2008, 1.71 couples per 1,000 population got a divorce. But in 2015, 2.79 couples per 1,000 population divorced, a 63 percent surge in less than a decade.

The measurement per 1,000 population is used by the United Nations and others to identify trends.

In 2015, 3.84 million couples got divorced in China, up 5.6 percent from 2014. Among them, 693,000 couples went to court.

Meanwhile, 12.25 million couples registered for marriage at civil affairs bureaus, down 6.3 percent from the previous year. In the newlywed group, 39.4 percent were between age 25 and 29.

Li Mingshun, a professor of law at China Women's University, attributed the increase in part to changes in property laws affecting husbands and wives.

Divorces up 63% in past decade

"The property relationship, which was not the most important in marriage in the past, is now getting priority," Li said. "A married couple used to be closely united, with most properties jointly possessed. But now the tie has been weakened."

However, Li also said that the increase in divorces should not be interpreted solely as a bad sign.

"In the past, Chinese people said a good person will never get divorced. That mentality has been discarded." Li said. "Divorce itself should not be demonized."

In 2011, China set up a love-themed post office in Beijing, the first of its kind, in an effort to remind young people of the value of a stable marriage amid booming divorce rates. It has a unique postal code - 100099 - which sounds similar to "forever" in Chinese. The office allows newlyweds to send sealed love letters to each other but with delivery delayed for seven years.

It may help alleviate the so-called seven-year-itch, which refers to the boredom and weariness some couples acquire about seven years into a marriage.

Website divorcescience.org, which is dedicated to the scientific study of divorce and support for families, cited the latest divorce rates from the United Nations World Demographic Report and ranked 71 countries and regions. Guam topped the chart with 4.6 divorces per 1,000 population, while Bosnia-Herzegovina has the lowest rate at 0.4.


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