China is eyeing a progressive, flexible and differentiated path to raising the retirement age, a senior expert from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) has revealed. Demographers believe that raising the retirement age is partly intended to deal with China’s aging problem – but more importantly, it’s a rational and timely decision considering the country’s changing demographic structure.
Jin Weigang, president of the Chinese Academy of Labor and Social Security Sciences of the MOHRSS, told the Xinhua News Agency on Saturday that progressive means that implementation will be delayed for several months every year or one month every few months at first. The retirement age won’t be raised all at once, according to Jin.
People nearing retirement age will only have to delay retirement for several months, Jin said. He added that young people may have to work a few years longer but will have a long adaptation and transition period.
The most important feature of the reform is allowing people to choose when to retire according to their circumstances and conditions, said Jin. This showcases the flexibility and inclusiveness of the reform.
Song Jian from the Center for Population and Development Studies of Renmin University of China told the Global Times that the plan to raise the retirement age is partly meant to cope with China’s aging problem, but more importantly, it is in line with the country’s shifting demographic structure.
China’s birth and death rates have been falling for many years, so the policy will come in handy and may even bring China another demographic dividend. The retirement age has remained unchanged at 60 for men and 55 for women civil servants and white-collar workers for more than four decades, according to Song.
But she pointed out that implementation of the new policy should be flexible and give individuals enough space to choose, as different groups tend to have different tendencies.
According to Jin, raising the retirement age requires many supporting measures. Song pointed out that pensions are among the concerns.
“As our gray population is growing, it is inevitable that pensions will be inadequate, although delaying the retirement age can ease the gap,” according to Song, who suggested that China should introduce more incentives to save for retirement.
Meanwhile, the reform also faces challenges such as promoting employment and entrepreneurship of elder workers through more targeted means, and offering more social security subsidies to those who have difficulty in finding jobs orgetting reemployed, said Jin.