China’s Divorce Rate Increases by Five Times Since Economic Reform

( [email protected] ) Feb 17, 2010 02:02 PM EST

China’s divorce rate has been increasing for a record of nine straight years; China’s churches were urged to confront this problem by developing more marriage-counseling programs and services.

In 2009, the number of registered divorce couples totaled 1.71 million couples, which was an increase of 10.3 per cent from 2008, according to a recent statement released by China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Some Chinese society’s specialists said that in the recent decade as China is undergoing a transformation in the society, families have become loosened and the values between male and female have been transformed, which was one of the main factors for the increase of divorce rates.

The divorce rate in 2009 was three times more than that of 2001 and five times more than that of the beginning of China’s economic reform in the late 70’s.

In addition, the report revealed the top ten cities with the highest divorce rates; Beijing was ranked first with its divorce rate at 39 per cent. Other cities, including Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Xiamen, Dalian, etc., all have rates higher than 31 per cent.

Ang-Chi Xue, a researcher at Shanghai Institute of Sociology Academy of Social Sciences and the common affairs director of China Association of Marriage and Family Studies, said that while the causes of the rapid increase of divorce rate were multi-faceted, one of the main reasons was because the society has been going through a transition stage, which was a huge blow to marriage stabilities. In addition, the simplified procedures to get married and to obtain a divorce have allowed some couples to make rash decisions under simple impulse.

Other specialists have pointed out that extra-marital affairs in recent years have become one of the main causes for people to get divorced. This phenomenon has been associated with the trend of having a second wife, which analysts believed to be a result of the one-child policy in the cities. A research with a small test group revealed that the majority of the divorced couples have daughters.

Meanwhile, specialists believed that children growing up in single-parent families must be given proper attention and care. The younger the age of the divorced couple the younger the children will be when they begin living under a single-parent family environment.

From statistics and past experiences from various countries, children growing up in a single-parent family were shown to be negatively-affected psychologically when growing up. Thus, it is imperative to provide special care and attention towards the education and mental-welfare of children growing up in such circumstances.

Addressing the problem of divorce and family instabilities, China’s churches have in recent years offered ministries and services that taught the people how to setup a proper marriage viewpoint with the biblical viewpoint, how to live out a Christian lifestyle and faith, how to resolve marriage problems through perspectives of faith, and how to introduce Christian marriage principles and ethical standards to the society, etc.

Despite the undeniable challenges, the lack of pastoral workers and resources have delayed the process of meeting the needs of the Chinese married couples for marriage and family counseling. However, numerous Chinese ministers have advocated that Christians should confront this problem first by establishing a Christ-centered family, which in the long-run will have an enduring and longer-lasting impact towards China’s churches and overall society’s development.

[Editor's note: reporter Ruth Wong contributed to this report.]