Earthquake disasters, marriage, and divorce: evidence from China 2000-2011

Xian Xu (School of Economics, Fudan University, Shanghai, China)
Jingbing Feng (School of Economics, Fudan University, Shanghai, China)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Publication date: 1 February 2016



The purpose of this paper is to identify the effects earthquakes may have on rates of marriage and divorce in China, a country strongly affected by losses due to earthquakes.


This paper studies the effect of earthquakes on marriage and divorce rates in China between 2000 and 2011, using panel data from 31 provinces as well as from Sichuan at the prefecture level, a province that has a high frequency of earthquakes.


The results show that when controlling for demographic, economic, and social factors, losses due to earthquakes are found to be associated with increases in both marriage and divorce rates. While the estimated elasticities are low, amounting to 1.92×10−2 and 6.102×10−2, respectively, they are highly significant, suggesting that a doubling of losses due to earthquakes increases marriages by 1.92 percent and divorces by 6.102 percent with a lag of one year. Since the first elasticity is smaller than the second, losses due to earthquakes may influence familial instability. Moreover, these effects increase in the second year but cannot be traced beyond three years after the disaster.


In view of the cost imposed on society by instable family relationships, these findings point to a need to provide relief to families after earthquake disasters.



Xu, X. and Feng, J. (2016), "Earthquake disasters, marriage, and divorce: evidence from China 2000-2011", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 59-74.

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