The mainland’s divorce rate has risen by almost 13 per cent, with 3.5 million couples filing for divorce last year, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.
In its 2013 Social Service Development Statistical Bulletin released on Tuesday, the ministry said the divorce rate on the mainland – which has been steadily rising over the past decade – had gone up 12.8 per cent last year compared with 2012.
Data from the bulletin showed that civil affairs departments and marriage registration institutions across the mainland prepared legal documents to end the marriages of about 3.5 million couples last year.
More than 2.8 million of the couples – about 80 per cent – applied for their divorce in civil affairs departments while the remaining 685,000 took their divorce to the courts.
Separately, on marriages, the bulletin revealed that 13.5 million couples were married last year. The newlyweds were mostly aged in their mid to late 20s.
Sexologist Li Yinhe said that based on the number of couples who got married and divorced last year, the mainland’s marriage dissolution rate was as high as 27 per cent. It was only about 2 per cent in the 1970s and 14 per cent in the ’90s, she said.
The rate of divorce refers to the number of divorces occurring among the whole population, while the marriage dissolution rate refers to the number of divorces occuring among married people.
“Research shows that divorce rates rise with modernisation. What happened in China is a good example,” she said.
Li said rural people were less tolerant of divorce, which was often seen as a scandal. Many women were forced to remain in a broken-down marriage in order not to sully their families’ reputation, she said.
People in urban societies, in contrast, faced less backlash if they chose to end their marriage. Women these days were also more likely to be able to support themselves rather than having to depend on their husbands.
But Li said that even given the rate at which marriages were dissolving in China, it was still lower than that in other countries, such as the United States. In the US, one out of every two marriages end in a divorce, she said.