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Divorce rate climbs among middle-aged Chinese couples
The Epoch Times
2/1/2004



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A recent study released by the Haidian District Civil Court showed that the divorce rate among middle-aged Chinese couples has gradually risen in the last two decades, while divorce rate among couples in their 20s has dropped.

According to a Qianlong Net report, the study revealed that in 1980, most of the people seeking a divorce were childless couples around age 30. Couples aged over 40 comprised only a small proportion of those seeking a divorce. The 2001 and 2003 statistics showed that people in their 30s and over 40 are now much more likely to seek a divorce than in 1980. A significant number of them also have children under 10 years old. In 1980, 37 percent of couples who sought a divorce were under 30, compared to 13 percent in 2001 and 6.6 percent in 2003. People between the ages of 30 and 40 comprised 37 percent of those who sought a divorce in 1980, compared to 47 percent in 2001 and 46.5 percent in 2003. In 1980, only 17 percent of the divorce seekers were between the ages of 40 and 50; the proportion of this age group rose to 28 percent in 2001 and 32.1 percent in 2003. People 50 years or older comprised of 9 percent of those who sought a divorce in 1980, compared to 12 percent in 2001 and 14.7 percent in 2003.

The report attributed the decrease in divorce among couples in their 20s to delayed marriages and the increased duration of courtship. The report also gave a range of reasons for an increased divorce rate among the middle-aged. In the 1980s, the reason for divorce was primarily trivial familial matters. Now besides familial matters, other reasons include incompatible personalities and irreconcilable differences in views. The number of cases of middle-aged divorces due to incompatible personalities increased from 0 in 1980 to 13.7 percent in 2001 and 37percent in 2003. The situation of spouses living in different cities also contributed to divorces. Of the 171 cases handled by the Haidian District court between January and October of 2003, 55 involved extra-marital relationships.

Social studies experts gave four top reasons for increased divorce rates among the middle-aged Chinese. First, the concept of marriage is changing. Although most of those who seek a divorce have children, they place the pursuit of happiness above stability.

Second, most of them are at the height of their careers, with young children causing much stress and strain on the relationship.

Third, social acceptance of divorce has increased and more opportunities exist to meet new partners. Extra-marital affairs also play an ever more important role in relationships, threatening marriages.

Fourth, families have become smaller and the familial support system is weaker than before. When many family members lived together, it was easier for the conflicts between a couple to be resolved because there were many familial relationships that could allay the marital conflicts. The increase in divorce among those over 50 is primarily due to couples who choose to leave an unsatisfying relationship after the children are grown.

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