Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Retirement age should be raised gradually

By Zhang Youqin (China Daily) Updated: 2015-01-13 08:38

Retirement age should be raised gradually

An elderly woman at a senior care home in Jinan, Shandong province

According to the criterion of the United Nations, a person steps into old age stage after crossing the age of 60 or 65 years, depending on the different age structure in the country he/she lives. Countries use this criterion to define "elderly people" and set the "retirement age", which means the retirement age could differ from country to country.

With social development and advancement of medical technology, people's average life span is increasing, which leads to the problem of aging population. Since an aging population could mean a significant rise in old-age pensions, increasing incomes of and reducing social expenditure on senior citizens have become a necessity.

One way, and an effective and strategic way, of reducing social expenditure on elderly people is to increase the retirement age. Raising the retirement age is also an effective way of increasing senior citizens incomes, which is the established international practice. But the retirement age in a country should be raised, if at all, according to its actual conditions and individuals' choices.

In China, different pension systems stipulate different retirement ages, which are different for men and women. People's attitude toward the issue is complicated too. There are differences when it comes to social statuses and genders. Besides, whether or not people would agree to extend their working age depends on the attractiveness of old-age pension and satisfaction with the work they do. If the pension they draw is high (compared with their salary), people would tend to retire early, and vice-versa.

Moreover, given the difference in the retirement system for blue-collar and white-collar workers in China, the latter, especially men, are more likely to postpone their retirement age, while manual workers and women would prefer retiring early. Therefore, employees' choices are different when it comes to the extent to which the retirement age should be raised in different sectors, and for men and women.

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