Stat mistake doubles China’s divorce rate

China Photos/Getty Images Until a few years ago, Chinese couples needed permission from state authorities to get divorced. But the economic superboom has brought a host of social changes, and in the past few years, China’s divorce rate has skyrocketed, with nearly 3 divorces per 1,000 people (slightly below the United States’ 3.7 splits per ...

604507_wedding_nanjing_05.jpg
604507_wedding_nanjing_05.jpg

China Photos/Getty Images

Until a few years ago, Chinese couples needed permission from state authorities to get divorced. But the economic superboom has brought a host of social changes, and in the past few years, China's divorce rate has skyrocketed, with nearly 3 divorces per 1,000 people (slightly below the United States' 3.7 splits per 1,000). That led many in the country to question whether Western values were to blame for degrading the morals of Chinese couples.

But, as is so often the case, the numbers can't be trusted. It seems China was counting the number of people divorced, not the number of actual divorces, effectively doubling its rate. A correction of the counting method has now halved the Middle Kingdom's rate.

China Photos/Getty Images

Until a few years ago, Chinese couples needed permission from state authorities to get divorced. But the economic superboom has brought a host of social changes, and in the past few years, China’s divorce rate has skyrocketed, with nearly 3 divorces per 1,000 people (slightly below the United States’ 3.7 splits per 1,000). That led many in the country to question whether Western values were to blame for degrading the morals of Chinese couples.

But, as is so often the case, the numbers can’t be trusted. It seems China was counting the number of people divorced, not the number of actual divorces, effectively doubling its rate. A correction of the counting method has now halved the Middle Kingdom’s rate.

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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