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China divorce statistics a bit too high

Chinese statistics are never very reliable, but what happened to China’s divorce statistics really makes you wonder if anyone is thinking about the scientific methods used in the calculations. Fons Tuinstra’s blog was the first place where I read about what had gone wrong in China’s statistics bureau.

A Chinese marriage expert Xu Anqi, was doing research when she noted in a United Nations yearbook that the divorce rate in China was the highest in the world. This intrigued her, especially because she was looking at figures for 1993 when getting a divorce in China was not yet as common as it is now. But she soon found the reason: China had been miscalculating the figure. Instead of calculating the ratio of divorces by the total population, China had calculated how many people divorced as part of the total population. Because one divorce includes two people, China’s reported figures were twice as high as they should have been. The mistake has been made for almost 20 years, since 1988.

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