Raising retirement age an inevitable trend

Source:Global Times Published: 2013-11-20 0:08:01

According to the decision on major issues concerning comprehensively deepening reforms approved at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, China will map out a policy to gradually enable a higher retirement age threshold, signaling that reform hits another controversial and sensitive field.

Officials from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security clarified when interviewed that raising the retirement age must take small steps. Besides, after the policy is officially issued, a buffer time of several years will be designed to facilitate its implementation.

Most Chinese sociologists believe it's a trend to adopt deferred retirement. The current retirement age of China was set in the 1950s. As the average lifespan of Chinese has increased by over 20 years compared to that time, coupled with the fact that the country is facing an aging society, a lack of pension, and a shrinking pool of workforce from 19 to 59 years of age, China has no other choice but to reform its retirement system.

Extending the retirement age has taken place in many developed countries. Some countries worked it out in a smooth way while others witnessed acute social conflicts. The decision of France in 2010 to increase its retirement age from 60 to 62 within eight years triggered a nationwide strike. Despite a considerable loss caused to the national economy, the French government continued with the reform.

Delaying retirement is related to the interests of all workers. Topic of social security attracts the most attention on the Internet. China apparently faces stern challenges to proceed with the reform. 

Some will be discontent with the reform. This requires the media and intellectuals to take great efforts to clarify for the public a real picture of the pension situation, instead of making use of the resentment in public opinion to score points of their own. The public must understand that raising the retirement age is the result of an increasing average lifespan for Chinese. It has nothing to do with politics or the interests of special groups.

Deferring retirement cannot be realized in a shower of applause. The government should be courageous enough to bear the opposition from the public in order to secure the long-term interests of the Chinese people and maintain China's global competitiveness. As long as the reform is finalized and eventually benefits the public, negative sentiments toward it in public opinion will vanish.

Reform on the retirement system is a big social project which will to some extent change the living situation of the Chinese. To carry it out demands a proper, orderly way. Step-by-step reform could create enough room for people to adapt to it while enabling follow-up support measures. 

China should also speed up in abolishing the dual-track pension system as a coordination to realize deferred retirement. Slow reform on the pension system will bring more difficulties to extending the retirement age.

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