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Wives Happy to Live Apart: Report
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Despite living apart from their husbands, more than half the "left-behind" women in Guangdong say they have a happy marriage, a report has said.

Produced by the Guangdong Women's Federation, the Development Report of Women in Guangdong Province is the first of its kind, Liu Yupu, the vice-secretary of the Guangdong CPC committee, said.

The report, published on Tuesday, said there are currently 47 million married women in Guangdong, most aged 20 to 40, whose husbands work in other parts of the country.

Most of them live in rural areas where they care for an extended family.

The majority of the women has had only a junior middle school education and 1.6 percent are illiterate. Just 0.5 percent of them have been to college.

The report said 54.3 percent of left-behind women have never visited their husbands and just 4.1 percent said they regularly see their partners.

However, 55.7 percent of them said their marriages were happy because their husbands were giving them more money than they had done before.

The report found the average annual income for a left-behind woman's family was 11,000 yuan (US$1,450), more than twice the 4,700 yuan average for couples who live together.

Although 20 percent of the women said they worried their husbands might have an affair while they were away they still supported their decision to work in another city.

One of the report's compilers, Wei Min, said she was concerned with the results.

Chinese society still regards men as superior to women, she said, and even though some progress has made in recent years, there is still a long way to go.

To improve the quality of life for couples living apart due to work commitments, the report suggested giving husbands additional holidays so they can go home more often to visit their families.

Also, employers should be asked to pay wives' travel costs when they visit their husbands.

In addition to the left-behind women, the report investigated several other marriage issues.

For example, it found almost 30 percent of high-ranking women government officials had been divorced, more than four times the figure for their male counterparts. Also, more than 90 percent of Guangdong couples said they would have more than one child if the national family planning regulations allowed them to do so.

(China Daily August 23, 2007)

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