Wednesday, November 13, 2013
(Reuters) - Wearing her favourite black dress, 53-year-old Liu Fenqin sat nervously in a corner at an official match-making event in Shanghai, hoping to find a husband after her first marriage ended in divorce more than 10 years earlier. With China's divorce rate rising, Liu was one of thousands of middle-aged and senior lonely hearts who took part in the annual event sponsored by the Shanghai government after the upper age limit was raised from 45 to 60 this year. The event, which drew 30,000 people last year, attracted an estimated 40,000 this year after organisers lifted the age limit to satisfy demand from the growing number of divorcees, said Xu Tianli, vice chairman of the Shanghai Matchmaking Agency Management Association.
With some people there in their 60s and even 70s, the age limit was not absolute. Divorce rates in China have climbed for seven years in a row. In 2012, the year-on-year rise in divorces outpaced that of marriages for the first time, according to official data. The Chinese city with the highest divorce rate is Beijing, at 39 percent, according to local media. The issue has not escaped the notice of China's government, which is concerned that broken homes will erode social stability. "It's likely that children from divorced families will become social outcasts and vagrants. So it does have a negative impact on society." To mend ailing marriages and encourage senior singles to date, China has introduced a range of measures.