Lunar New Year is a time for the celebration of the beginning of the new year, but the holiday instead brought high tensions for Chinese families stuck under the same roof. China places substantial cultural importance on family, and it seems as though almost nothing can break the bond of a traditional Chinese family. However, COVID-19 may be the force strong enough to break those bonds. COVID-19 has become a leading factor in China’s increasing divorce rates.

Divorce Rates in China

China publishes annual nationwide statistics on divorce, and reports from different cities show an increase in separations in March of 2020 as couples engaged in a government-mandated lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19. While the lockdown was put in place to protect families from the virus, the protective measure may have been too much for Chinese families forced to live together in close quarters.

For example, one Shanghai divorce lawyer reports that his caseload increased 25% since the lockdown in March, citing infidelity as the number one reason couples are looking into divorce.

China’s divorce rate has been accumulating since 2003. More than 1.3 couples divorced, and the numbers steadily increased for 15 years, reaching 4.5 million in 2018. In 2019, 4.15 million Chinese couples divorced.

China’s Ominous Warning for Couples in the Rest of the World

The booming divorce rates in China may be a warning for couples in the United States and the rest of the world who are on lockdown. While some couples may have experienced marital bliss during quarantine, others have not been so lucky. As the proverb goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” but the opposite may be if the lockdown forces couples to spend a little too much time together.