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Divorce rates spike in Chinese city after coronavirus hits

| Mar 17, 2020 | Divorce

It is too soon to tell what the overall impact will be as COVID-19 cases grow around the world. However, the Global Times reports one effect is a sharp rise in divorces in the Chinese city of Xi’an.

The Times says the city has seen a record number of divorce filings in recent weeks, so many that local government offices have maxed out appointment availabilities.

Researchers try to make sense of the steep rise

The report illustrates the confusion many feel over the coronavirus. One local official in Xi’an told the Times that divorces can be finalized in less than an hour there. He added that many regretted the decision and decided to remarry within several hours. Health officials say there are two likely factors for the sharp rise in divorces:

  • Government offices were closed for a month, so they were likely hit with the backlog of divorce petitions once they reopened.
  • People were under stress and quarantined in close quarters, which fostered an even more inflammatory environment when couples argued.

Conflicting studies create a puzzle for researchers

Even without the external threat that the coronavirus presents to people’s health and mental well-being, research shows no clear answers on whether spending more time together is a good or bad thing for couples.

One 2018 study found partners who lived with each other before getting married had lower divorce rates in the first year, but higher rates during the next five years. Another study found living together first made divorce less likely, while a third said it made no difference at all.