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Pilot program supplements pension system

By Yang Guoying (China Daily) Updated: 2014-07-02 07:54

The China Insurance Regulatory Commission recently announced that four cities, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Wuhan, would be the pilot cities for a houses-for-pensions program for senior citizens beginning July 1.

The aim is to provide citizens with secure and stable incomes after they retire based on the equity in their homes. Houses-for-pensions can provide a financial solution to retirement for those elderly with properties, especially those seniors who have lost their only child.

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However, the plan has caused controversy since the idea was introduced in September last year. The main reason for this is the new program seems to pose a challenge to China's traditional retirement lifestyles. In Chinese culture, housing and land are passed on through the family when people die and they are seldom sold off.

For another, in rural areas it is still the norm for adult children to support their aging parents. While for citizens in urban areas, the government has established a basic pension system for senior citizens with national pension funds since 1949.

However, nowadays, this pension system cannot meet the needs of China's aging society. In particular, people in rural areas need to be included in the national pension system in the near future in order to realize greater fairness in society.

China is now becoming an aging society. According to the data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the number of seniors, that is people over the age of 60, was more than 200 million in February, accounting for 14.9 percent of the total population in China.

However, the aging process in China has just started. It is predicted that in 20 years, China will enter the peak period for its aging population. Moreover, the statistics of the United Nations show that the population of Chinese old people aged over 65 will reach 487 million in 2050, accounting for 35 percent of the total population. Therefore, the pension burden will become increasingly heavy.

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