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GUIYANG, Guizhou — A Chinese town is reportedly seeing divorce rates skyrocket after a housing policy was instituted that meant couples could double the amount of land they own by appearing to be single.
A housing policy in the southern China town Guiyang, in Guizhou province, awards equal plots of land per household, not per person, meaning a single person is entitled to as much land as a married couple or a family.
To get around the land limits, hundreds of couples have filed for divorce since the policy was implemented, according to the Austrian Times. More than 500 couples have filed for divorces in order to double their land ownership.
"Me and my husband are very happy. But all of our neighbors, all of our friends and all of our family have divorced so what can we do?" Guo Chaoqing, 65, said.
"If my wife, I, our son and his daughter all get divorced we'll get four plots. We can't get left behind," he added.
The land grab comes as China has seen a rise in housing prices throughout the last half of 2012, according to data from the China Index Academy. Home prices have risen between 0.17 percent and 0.24 percent every month since August. And as home prices rise, Guizhou has not seen economic relief.
All of our neighbors, all of our friends and all of our family have divorced so what can we do?
The average income in the province is about one-fifth of that in China's richer areas, such as Shanghai and Beijing — similar to impoverished areas like Nigeria or Sudan. Officials are trying to help the province grow economically, though, by focusing on tourism. New roads and even an airport are being built there.
Change for the province could also come if the country's "one-child policy" is phased out, as has been recommended to Chinese leaders by a Chinese think tank. The policy has led to a variety of economic and political problems for the country.
"China has paid a huge political and social cost for the policy, as it has resulted in social conflict, high administrative costs and led indirectly to a long-term gender imbalance at birth," the Xinhua News Agency said.
The reversal of such a policy would not solve overnight the problems the country faces — especially in poor regions such as Guizhou — but it would be a step in reversing the issues, according to the agency.
Credit: Austrian Times