Proposal to raise retirement age meets opposition

A retired man showing his old-age pension passbook Photo: Southern Weekly

The Resolution of the Third Plenary Session of the 18 Central Committee of the Communist Party of China concluded last week announced that plans would be formulated to raise the retirement age in a progressive manner. However, more than 90% of people are against any increase in the retirement age, according to a survey conducted by the People’s Net (people.com.cn).

Existing laws in China set the retirement age at 60 for men and 55 for women. Zhu Junsheng, associate dean of the School of Labor Economics of the Capital University of Economics and Business (CUEB), said that it is right to raise the retirement age from the viewpoint of the aging population, but it shouldn’t be regarded as the fundamental solution to the shortage in the old-age pension.

Experts say it is understandable that people engaged in heavy physical labor or dangerous jobs oppose any increase in the retirement age, but many others intend to continue working while receiving the retirement pension.

Another reason for the opposition is that the staff of the state-owned enterprises don’t need to pay for the endowment insurance, but are entitled to much higher old-age pension than those from other types of enterprises, according to Gong Sen, director of the Research Department of Social Development of the Development Research Center of the State Council.

Gong suggested the government should formulate plans to change the “double-track” pension system in order to achieve equitable old-age benefits. “We don’t expect to completely get rid of the existing system in one step, but the government should come up with a feasible plan to show its resolve and sincerity,” he said.

Zhu Junsheng is not optimistic about the elimination of the double-track pension system. “Technically, it is not difficult to eliminate the system. The most difficult part is to plant the idea of equality into the minds of the people who have vested interests. It will take a fairly long time,” he said.

Most experts believe the retirement age should be raised in a way that can minimize its negative impact on the related people. Zhu Junsheng suggested that the government should carry it out in small steps. “It took around 30 years for many countries to raise the retirement age from 60 to 65, so people don’t need to panic. The government is expected to give people enough time to adjust to the upcoming policy,” he said. He also pointed out that the timetable for raising the retirement age should be calculated in a precise and discreet manner.

(Edited by Billie Feng)


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