Bright outlook for graying population
By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-03-18 07:23
Retirees at the Daimiao community in Shandong province approached NPC deputy Jin Lanying before she set off for Beijing early this month.
They urged Jin to increase their old-age insurance, which was adjusted by the level of the basic old-age pension in reference to the price index of living expenses for urban residents and employees' pay increases.
"In our community, an urban retired worker gets about 600 yuan a month," Jin said.
Those who used to work for township enterprises receive only 130 yuan a month, Jin, who heads the Daimiao community office in the city of Tai'an, said.
The good news is the government aims to achieve the provincial universal level of old-age insurance nationwide within the next two years, minister of Labor and Social Security Tian Chengping said during a press conference on March 8.
The ministry is also speeding up efforts to issue measures for the trans-provincial transfer and continuation of old-age insurance while building up a comprehensive, national information system.
Basic old-age insurance for urban employees in China consists of two parts - base insurance (pay-as-you-go) and pensions from personal accounts.
The monthly pension from the personal account equals one-120th of the total accumulated sum in the personal account.
The account consists of 8 percent of an employee's wage, which is deposited monthly in the pension section, and an additional 20 percent comes from their employer.
Consequently, pensions differ from one place to another. Debts have haunted northeastern provinces with large population of laid-off workers and retirees, while more developed cities, such as Shenzhen, have surpluses in their pension reserves.
The large gap among old-age insurance recipients in urban areas is a growing concern, because the country is rapidly graying, with the aged population's size expected to peak in the 2030s.
In 2001, Liaoning province became the site of the first experimental old-age insurance reform, and pilot projects were introduced nationwide from 2005.
The aim in establishing provincial universal old-age insurance is to move closer to a national universal system sometime between 2015 and 2020, Zheng Gongcheng, a NPC deputy and a leading researcher of social security and welfare, said.
"We need to establish a national and multi-level basic old-age insurance system marked by sustainable development, rather than having individual and separate systems in different provinces."
Last year, the number of people under the basic old-age insurance scheme rose to more than 201 million, about 75 percent of city employees, excluding self-employed or individual workers.
The number is 54 million more than that of 2002.
Lu Quan, a researcher at Renmin University of China, said that to achieve equal old-age insurance throughout one province will raise the level of the retirees from less developed areas and provinces, and various levels of fund reserves can balance and support one another.
As a result, the fair distribution of old-age insurance funds in various provinces will guarantee a balanced old-age insurance system, a smooth money flow and sustainable development, Lu said.
(China Daily 03/18/2008 page7)