Morning Clicks

Netizens discover link between housing prices and divorce rates

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 September, 2012, 9:05am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 September, 2012, 9:34am

Yes, it comes as some relief to urban Chinese couples that soaring property prices might have more to do with struggles in their relationship than infidelity, bad sex or the wrong choice of partner, or at least some rough combination of the above.

Two sets of numbers in circulation online since yesterday, widely enough to suggest that many internet users want to see some truth in them, seem to suggest that a rise in divorce rates in Beijing and Shanghai in recent years can be attributed to concurrent rising property prices in those cities.

In that order, the combined figures, first reported yesterday by Nanjing's Modern Express newspaper (Chinese yuan/sqm:divorce rate), are:

  Beijing   Shanghai  
  Yuan per square metre Divorce rate (per cent) Yuan per square metre Divorce rate (per cent)
2009 16,057 20.6 10.574 23.9
2010 27,130 39 22,040 38
2011 23,818 40.2 25,778 44


Housing policy as marriage-saver?

After digging up the respective figures for Nanjing, the newspaper discovered that the number of divorces has risen steadily in that city as well since 2006 - but by much smaller margins, however, in the years 2008, when housing market restrictions resulted in a large drop in property prices and widespread flipping among property speculators, and again in 2010 with the introduction of another round of housing purchase restrictions accompanied by further drops in prices in 2011, a year which actually saw a sharp decline in divorces, nearly a return to 2009's number of divorces.

One explanation is that many couples have arranged "fake" divorces as a means to circumvent purchase restrictions - being newly "single" allows at least one spouse to pick up a second property. The correlation theory, however, may not be immune to excess policy changes, at least in Nanjing, which has recorded more than 16,000 divorces so far this year alone (compared with 19,673 in 2011) and could process as many as 20,000 by year's end.

When contacted by Modern Express, statisticians at the Nanjing Bureau of Civil Affairs denied that any relationship exists between housing prices and divorce rates.


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