Dual-Track Pension System: Civil Servants 6000, Farmers 55 RMB

An elderly Chinese farmer holding up a sample of his dead crop.

An elderly Chinese farmer holding up a sample of his dead crop.

The following is currently the article on Chinese web portal Sina with the most participants, over 172k, more than twice as much as the second place article…

From Sina:

Dual-Track Pension System Accused of Being Most Unfair: Civil Servants 6000, Rural Peasants 55 Yuan

The double-track pension system is a topic that has received considerable attention over the past few years with many, including some experts, believing that the state treasury fully providing for the retirement pay of government agencies and enterprises while implementing a “pay-in/contribution” system for workers of private companies is the biggest inequality in today’s society.

At this year’s Two Meetings, several CPPCC and NPC representatives successively submitted proposals calling for to abolish the dual-track pension system as soon as possible. With regards to Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security Vice Minister Wang Xiaochu statements during the Two Meetings that the retirement age will be increased, the response of a majority of representatives was that the country should first solve the dual-track retirement pay system problem before progressively implementing a policy for pushing back the retirement age.

12th National People's Congress in Beijing.

Many experts and Two Meetings representatives who detest the dual-track pension system are thinking of private company workers as the victims, but have overlooked the fact that there are already over 110 million rural peasants over the age of 60 in China today. Starting from 2009, the country launched a new rural social security insurance pilot scheme, where the fixed retirement pay standard given to rural peasants over the age of 60 is 55 yuan per person per month, and moving forward, the central government treasury’s contribution to the rural peasant pension is zero.

With the implementation of the dual-track pension system, despite the country having already adjusted the retirement benefits for private companies up continuously over the past 9 years, with the retirement benefit increasing up to 1893 yuan for private company workers, the repeatedly increased retirement benefits for current private company workers is still only 1/3 that of retirement benefits for civil servants of the same level. No wonder many retired workers from private companies react to the increases in their retirement benefits by saying “don’t feel a thing [not much difference]”, and aim their dissatisfied criticisms at the dual-track pension system.

Private company workers are severely unhappy with the dual-track pension system, with some experts and Two Meetings representatives also calling for the disposal of the dual-track pension system, without considering the 60-years-old and above rural elderly who face the problem of gradually losing their ability to work. Relying on a 55 yuan per person per month basic retirement pay standard, how can elderly peasants live comparably to the retired workers of urban private companies and government agencies and enterprises?

Some people who live and work in the cities will believe peasants own land, but land does not produce anything by itself, and under existing land, household register, as well as food safety systems, the land that peasants own is “collectively-owned land” that cannot freely be transferred. With government subsidies given to peasants for using their land not being much, peasant farming basically unable to make money, and them working in cities being unable to enjoy the welfare benefits of urban residents, over time, it is the peasantry that our country’s social security system and pension system is actually most deficient to.

An elderly Chinese migrant worker carrying a bag on his back and shoulders.

Peiking University Law School Vice-President Wang Xixin has been following the pension system problem, and has previously expressed, “The current pension system is mainly used for urban residents, while there exists a huge inequality for rural peasants due to the traditional persistent segregation of city and countryside in the allocation of public resources”, “less than 1% of the central treasury’s revenue could build a rural peasant pension system”.

Like Wang Xixin, China National Committee on Aging Deputy Director Yan Qingchun and other experts are also focused on pension system inequality and the problem of rural pensions. at a charity forum at the end of 2012, Yan Qingchun expressed not without worries that there are currently 250 million working age migrant workers in the cities working, with 45% of households in the countryside now being “empty nests” [where the children have grown up and moved out, usually to find work elsewhere], so many rural elderly who remain behind and leading the children who remain behind in farming. This kind of situation has caused our country’s rural retirement situation to be even worse than what it was during the past planned economy era.

In fact, the number of migrant workers currently participating in the basic social security system is less than 1/6th of the total migrant worker population, so there is a low participation rate, low contribution level, high retirement rate, and similar problems. So after these migrant workers who have entered the cities to work become old, where is the money for their retirement supposed to come from?

Comments on Sina:


Everyone clearly knows it is unfair yet it has been implemented for this many years now, and what more, there is not a single person in the government expressing any intention to do something about it, so where is the hope?


Resolutely and unconditionally prohibit the dual-track pension system!!! Stop nakedly plundering the ordinary common people!!!


Workers and peasants not only have the power to work hard to create even more material benefit for other people, they also have the duty to pay to be made fools of!


Why are the rural residents in Japan better off than those in the cities, while in China it is the exactly the opposite?


Why not just exchange the land for social security? If social security is so great, why do the peasants refuse to exchange? Land is the true guarantee/security. Aren’t they now saying when pensions become inadequate, they’re going to extend the retirement age? This alone amply shows that social security is not actually reliable, and land is still better.


To put it nicely, it’s the Chinese Dream, but when [the government] doesn’t even dare eliminating something as small as the unfair and unequal benefits of a dual-track [pension] system, how are we to dream without that dream becoming just an illusion?


The dual-track system is the worst, the most unpopular, an bad system that interest groups set for themselves, for their own benefit, for their own enjoyment. The ordinary common people are all criticizing it but they’re shamelessly refusing to change it.


The dual-track pension system is publicly-known corruption.


First request the government to eliminate the dual-track system, then consider the vast peasant population, one step at a time, without diverting attention.


The laws have always served the ruling classes, but there are still shameless people calling themselves public servants!

A group of old Chinese grannies.


Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.


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