Thursday, June 17, 2010

China’s divorce rate continues to climb

HONG KONG, June 17 — One in five Chinese marriages now ends in divorce with the rise in numbers put down to a “stronger sense of self.’’

More than 24 million people were married in mainland China last year — a rise of 2.28 million from 2008 — but there were also 2.47 million divorces, up 8.8 per cent year on year, according to a report just released by the nation’s Ministry for Civil Affairs.

The report also found that more older Chinese were getting married with the figure for those aged over 40 now accounting for almost 12 per cent of all those wed, while the number for those aged between 20 and 24 accounted for 37 per cent of all marriages, a drop of 10 per cent since 2005.

According to Tang Jun, from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the rise in divorce numbers is “almost a side effect’’ of China’s remarkable economic growth over the last decade.

“[People] are better educated than their parents, are more independent economically and have developed a stronger sense of self, which tends to wreck marriages more easily,’’ he told the China Daily newspaper.

Tang also pointed to a survey conducted by his organisation which claimed rising extramarital affairs had become a major cause of divorces in China, particularly in larger cities where women were less tolerant of affairs, he said.

He predicted divorce rates in China would soar in the next few years.

The rise in the number of older people getting married was attributed to both government policy, which since the 1970s has been encouraging people to wait until later, and the fact that the faster pace of life in China now meant that marriage was often delayed while work pressures were dealt with.

“Most of them [older people] had a previously failed marriage but it shows that the Chinese are becoming more open about remarriage,’’ said Tang.

And while the divorce rate in China may be climbing, the country still has a long way to go to catch up to its near neighbour South Korea which sees one in three marriages end in divorce, the second highest rate in the world behind the United States (around one in two). In Japan, meanwhile, approximately one in four marriages does not go the distance. — AFP/Relaxnews

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