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Retirement age in China and the effects of the ‘one-child’ policy

by on March 16, 2015

We look at stories relating to age at work that appear (in English) on Web 2.0; we have alerts set up  which find these and of course this includes ones that appear in the substantial English language press in many countries across the world. Today it’s the turn of a feature on the website of one such paper, the South China Morning Post. As reported here, it covers the announcement that China is planning to raise the retirement age of its workers within the next two years.

The current system, formulated in 1953, allows men to retire at 60 and women at 55. These ages look young compared to US and European state pension ages. In China the situation looks to have been prompted by twin concerns regarding strain on the Government pension scheme, with the regional differences in its financial state, coupled with a rapidly ageing population. By 2050, there will be an average of 1.3 working age people for every retired person in China (currently, there are just over 3). China recently partially eased its one-child policy but the relaxation of rules have yet to result in a baby boom, which makes the latter issue more acute.

In this follow-up article, the plan to raise retirement ages was criticised as ‘unwise’ by a researcher at the Institute of Sociology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The researcher, Tang Jun, advocated further relaxation of the one-child policy through encouraging people to have more children to help with welfare costs and to boost the size of the workforce rather than increasing retirement age (suggesting there might be individual negotiation of retirement age). He also said that the second best method was to accept immigrants to increase the size of China’s labour force.

The one-child policy was also reported to have been addressed by Kong Weike, a delegate at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the nation’s main political advisory body. He apparently said the reforms to the one-child policy should go further with highly educated couples being allowed to have three children in order to “adjust the quality of the population”. Ah.

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