China’s divorce rates increase as lockdown eases

Matisynn Leckey, Editor

As COVID-19 grows more prominent everyday, American people are ordered to stay in their homes and limit contact outside their homes. This order was placed into effect in Colorado on March 26, 2020. However, shelter-in-place was already in effect around the globe, especially in China. This injurious virus originated in China, but did not come from China, much to the dismay of President Trump. 

Due to COVID-19 cases dropping in China, quarantine is finally lifting after eight long weeks. After eight weeks of being cooped up in their homes, Chinese people are at last able to begin seeing the long overdue sunlight. Yet, these weeks in isolation have started to take their toll on previously quarantined couples. 

Shanghai divroce lawyer Steve Li at Gentle & Trust Law Firm says his caseload has increased 25% since the city’s lockdown eased in mid-March, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. “The more time they spend together, the more they hate each other,” Li says of his new cases. “People need space. Not just for couples, this applies to everybody.” 

Chinese officials had hoped that couples locked down together would actually lead to a baby boom, helping offset birth rates that have fallen to a record low since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, despite the loosening of the one-child policy and the ramping up of campaigns to get women to marry and have children. When the virus hit in late January, in the eve of many festivities, couples in many cities had to endure an additional two months trapped under the same roof, sometimes with extended family.

A study of people in Hong Kong in the wake of the 2002-03 SARS epidemic found that “one year after the outbreak, SARS survivors still had elevated stress levels and worrying levels of psychological distress,” and divorce in 2004 was 21% higher than the 2002 level. 

This could be an indicator for what may happen in the United States when our lockdown begins to ease. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, the opposite could quite possible be true of too much time spent together in close quarters. China’s divorce spike is a warning to the rest of the locked-down world.