The Guinness Book of World Records doesn’t have an entry for the world’s largest mass divorce, so a group of 320 villagers in Jiangbei township in the city of Nanjing may have just missed an opportunity at gaining their portion of fame.
The inhabitants of the rural community in eastern China’s Nanjing province were clever enough to cash in on an opportunity to gain extra compensation for their condemned housing, however, when the 160 couples divorced in a two-day span last month.
Compensation was Too Good to Pass Up
With each household eligible to receive compensation for a maximum of 220 square metres as their homes made way for a new high tech park, the villagers found a way to turn their impending eviction into a windfall.
An 80 year old resident surnamed Ding told the Nanjing Morning News that he still had a good relationship with his now former wife, who continues to live with him after the divorce, but that the opportunity for additional compensation was just too great to pass up.
The deal offered to the villagers makes arrangements for that future accommodation, with new housing and cash being allocated according to the number of households displaced. The now doubled number of households in the village are each eligible for 70 square metres of replacement housing in a new development, along with a maximum of RMB130,000 ($18,844) in cash compensation per household.
The mass shattering of marital bonds was necessitated by a tight timeframe handed down by the local housing authorities. “They told us, ‘Divorced couples qualify, but we’ll give you two days. After that you have no chance’,” a villager explained to local reporters.
Housing Divorces Become a Thing in China
While the suddenness of Jiangbei’s divorce wave stands out, tearing up wedding vows to play the housing market is far from unheard of in China.
With China’s larger cities regularly placing stricter requirements on households buying a second home, citizens of the real estate-hungry nation have grown accustomed to using divorce to game housing policies. When reports spread last year that Shanghai’s higher down-payments on second homes would be soon be applied to newly-divorced as well as to married people, the rumours led to hundreds of couples denouncing their marital vows.
At least in Jiangbei, these divorces do not necessarily lead to legions of lonely hearts, however. Our octogenarian farmer Mr Ding told reporters that despite his newly-single status, he intended to reunite with his wife. After they had collected the cash and the new condos.