HONG KONG, March 14 (Reuters) – China plans to raise the retirement age gradually and in stages to cope with the country’s rapidly aging population, the state-backed Global Times said on Tuesday, citing a senior expert of the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources. .
Jin Weigang, president of the Chinese Academy of Labor and Social Security Sciences, said China envisions a “progressive, flexible and differentiated path for raising the retirement age”, meaning that it will initially take a few months would be postponed, which would then be postponed. increased.
“People approaching retirement age only need to postpone retirement for a few months,” the Global Times said, citing Jin. Young people may have to work a few more years, but will have a long adjustment and transition period, he said.
“The main feature of the reform is that people can choose when to retire depending on their circumstances and conditions.”
China has yet to formally announce a change to its retirement age, which is one of the lowest in the world at 60 for men, 55 for white-collar women and 50 for women working in factories.
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Li Qiang, the country’s new prime minister, said on Monday that the government will conduct rigorous studies and analysis to roll out prudent policies in the discourse.
As China’s population of 1.4 billion shrinks and ages, in part due to policies that limited one-child couples from 1980 to 2015, pressure on pension budgets is mounting, giving policymakers more urgency to address the situation.
China’s National Health Commission expects the cohort of people aged 60 and over to rise from 280 million to more than 400 million by 2035 – equivalent to the total current population of Britain and the United States combined.
Life expectancy has increased from about 44 years in 1960 to 78 years as of 2021, higher than in the United States, and is projected to exceed 80 years by 2050.
Currently, each retiree is supported by the contributions of five employees. The ratio is half of what it was a decade ago and is trending towards 4-to-1 in 2030 and 2-to-1 in 2050.
Demographers and economists say the current pension system, which relies on a shrinking active labor force to pay for the pensions of a growing number of retirees, is unsustainable and needs reform.
Eleven of China’s 31 provincial-level jurisdictions are facing pension budget deficits, according to data from the Ministry of Finance. The state-run Chinese Academy of Sciences sees the pension system run out of money by 2035.
Reporting by Farah Master in Hong Kong and the newsroom in Beijing; Edited by Raju Gopalakrishnan
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