Wait until 65 to retire? No way, say Chinese

Workshop of the world employees want a break sooner rather than later

Yiping Yang By Yiping Yang

Americans are reluctant to extend their retirement age to 67 to keep Social Security and Medicare afloat. The Chinese, meanwhile, are fighting about delaying their so-called golden years until their 65th birthday.

Director Ping He of China’s Institute of Social Security has proposed raising his country’s official retirement age by a year every two years starting in 2016. The changes would end in 2045, when China’s retirement age would be 65 for both men and women. Currently, in China, males retire at age 60, while female workers can retire at 50. China’s life expectancy is slightly less than 75, according to the CIA World Factbook. American life expectancy is around 78.

An elderly Chinese migrant worker at the Beijing railway station in January 2012. (Reuters)

The Institute said in June that postponing retirement for workers was inevitable given China’s graying population. Already, around 178 million Chinese people are older than 60. That’s nearly a quarter of everyone older than 60 on Earth.

China is now facing a sharp decrease of its working-age population. According to analysts at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, these declines mean the country will face serious labor shortages starting in 2030. The analysts note that the United States and Europe are also contemplating making employees work longer to keep entitlement funds in the black.

On Weibo — a Chinese version of Twitter — netizen Zhentian Xinlin was critical of the plan to increase the age of retirement.  “This proposal doesn’t meet the present situation of China,” she wrote. “What to do with the farmers? We can’t just copy from Western countries since they have a smaller labor force and a better social welfare system.”

Another Weibo poster, “Handsome Potato,” posted, “It’s not impossible to extend the retirement age, but first we should make sure it’s voluntary.”

About 10,000 Chinese college students at a job fair in Changzhou in eastern China. (Reuters)

Cnwest news site reported that delaying retirement would lead to more youth unemployment, aging executives and, most importantly, would alienate workers looking forward to time off.

More than 90 percent of netizens opposed this idea, an investigation from Sina, a news site, found. About 42 percent of netizens believe that if the retirement age reaches 65, medical insurance and health situation should be expanded first.

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