Experts Propose Increasing China’s Reitrement Age to 65

Elderly Chinese practicing taichi and exercising at a park in Beijing.

Two old Chinese men playing Chinese chess at a park.

From NetEase:

Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security expert recommends pushing retirement age back to 65

A discussion forum on strategies for proactively responding to the aging population convened in the capital yesterday. Head of the Human Resources and Social Security Research Institute He Ping suggested that our country should progressively prolong the retirement age, proposing that by 2045 the retirement age be 65 years old for both men and women.

Extending the retirement age from 60 to 65 in China.

Severe labor force shortage

According to the second global population census data, our country is the only country in the world where the elderly population exceeds 100 million. In 2010, our country’s elderly age 60 and above already reached 178 million, 23.6% of the of the entire world’s elderly population. This signifies that 1/4 of the elderly population is concentrated in China.

Director of The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) World Social Security Research Center Zheng Bingwn indicated that the aging of the population means the ratio of the burden the elderly have on the the population is constantly increasing while the contributions of the labor force is decreasing.

Zheng Bingwen explained that our country’s working age population will decrease from 970 million in 2010 to 870 million in 2050. The inflection point will occur in 2015, when the 998 million peak will be reached and then begin decreasing year after year, averaging a decrease of 3.66 million per year.

Director of the Quantitative Economy and Technical Economy Research Analysis Office of the CASS Li Jun predicts that by 2050, our country’s 15-59 year old labor force population will decline to 710 million people, a decrease of about 230 million from 2010. From 2030 onwards, a serious shortage will manifest itself in our country’s labor force supply.

Recommend extending the retirement age to 65

Facing the undeniable fact of our country’s aging population, many experts on the discussion forum once again proposed gradually pushing the retirement age back to slow the speed of the decrease in the labor force.

Director He Ping of China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.
Director He Ping of China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

Director of the Social Security Research Institute of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security He Ping mentioned that many foreign aging countries have adopted and are using external mechanisms to guide members of the labor force to voluntarily extend their retirement ages to combat their aging population. He recommended that our country begin implementing a policy of extending the retirement age beginning from 2016, with the retirement age being pushed back a year every two years. By 2045, the retirement age for both men and women would be 65 years old.

Li Jun also recommends a timely increase in the retirement age. He expressed that this aim is not to promote growth but to reduce the speed of the shrinking of the overall labor force size, to weaken the anticipated increase in costs to the labor force. But he pointed out that the age of retirement is extremely important, and must be treated cautiously in policy making.

Strengthen elderly training

Head of the Population and Labor Economy Research Institute of CASS Cai Fang suggested that along with the progressive decline of our country’s labor force population, our country should progressively delay the retirement age as well as strengthen training for the elderly to create opportunities for those affected by the extending of the retirement age.

Cai Fang spoke frankly that the older the person is in our country’s population, the lower their level of education is. Therefore, our country currently does not have the conditions for extending the retirement age.

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He recommends that the retirement age could adopt a flexible system, to fully use a portion of high skilled and high quality labor capital. At the same time, for the ordinary laborers with inadequate education, we can adopt prioritizing education and strengthening training to increase their level of education, thus increasing their ability to serve in their positions.

Elderly Chinese practicing taichi and exercising at a park in Beijing.

This article received a lot of attention on popular Chinese portal NetEase, attracting over 22k comments and 500k participants spanning over 750 pages after it was published early this morning, making it far and away the most popular and most discussed topic on the site today…

Comments on NetEase:

richardma80 [网易辽宁省沈阳市网友]:

Looks like the world is going to change, ding not extending the retirement age!!!

canadatrae [网易加拿大网友]:

Regarding China’s retirement pension and health insurance, I will only post a viewpoint that represents myself. you guys should first solve the double track problem and then talk about extending the retirement age. Looking at the world, what country still has the dual track system? Does the United States, Canada, Australia, Singapore/New Zealand? England, France, Germany? Japan, Korea? I won’t even mention the rest, but Canada has achieved a social security system that includes health insurance and retirement benefits that is truly fair and equal. For example, medical insurance here is not like in China where there are distinctions for publicly provided medical treatment for public servants and medical insurance for ordinary workers. In Canada, whether a civil servant or a citizen, your medical insurance is a unified system where you enjoy the same treatment. To take another example, the old-age insurance here is also unlike the dual-track system in China and public servants and citizens have completely the same old-age insurance. As long as you’ve worked and have retired, you can collect two sums of money, one an old-age pension and another a retirement pension. It isn’t possible here for civil servants to retire and get a retirement pension that is several times more than ordinary workers. On this point, how come you guys can’t bring yourself in alignment with international standards?


The life expectancy in China is 73 years old, and if you only start paying [retirement benefits] at 65, what the fuck are you guys trying to do? Fucking social security, I’m not paying it anymore!

墨荷物语 [网易吉林省长春市网友]:

Those people in the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security who collect high salaries and don’t do anything are again spouting bullshit. Let them go onto the construction sites and work for a few days and they will no longer suggest extending the retirement age.

最爱芊芊 [网易江苏省扬州市网友]:

Can you return the [social security taxes] I’ve paid back to me?

拿钱发帖全家高铁 [网易江苏省常州市网友]:

If I retire at 65, just how many more years will I live? These experts are simply fuckers.

hntangxh [网易湖南省衡阳市雁峰区网友]:

Director He Ping, spokesperson for vampires. Those who are government officials laugh, while the ordinary common people cry.

ltjinzhuxuexiao [网易吉林省吉林市网友]:

With the present medical care system, me living to 60 would be a long life.

107114690 [网易湖南省长沙市手机网友]:

Motherfuckers, retiring at 65, and you still call that fucking social security! Never motherfucking paying [into the system] again. If people retire at 65, will there still be any jobs for the young? Fucking blind experts, fuck your mothers! Collecting fucking high salaries to say this blind fucking irresponsible shit!

快乐的老豆 [网易陕西省西安市网友]:

Still thinking of what’s best for the eunuchs [government officials]? Should retired workers also be extended to 70 years old?

How would you solve the aging population problem?

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An old Chinese man practicing taiji in Xi'an.

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.

  • moop

    with the lowly level of social benefits and welfare the chinese people “enjoy”, there is going to be some serious shit hitting the fan if the retirement age is raised to that level without some kind of trade off. maybe throw in a sofa? or something

    • mr. wiener

      I don’t want to ever retire, maybe just slow down a bit. It was retirement that killed both my grandfathers. Died within a year of retiring , the both of them.

      • moop

        yeah i dont plan on retiring either. as soon as i am not able to take care of myself and rely on other people i just want to die. hopefully that will be legal by then.

        • The Enlightened One

          Yeah, I think I will go this route too. Better to do your own thing and build your OWN nest egg.

    • Young Man

      Chinese people can enjoy the benefits of the glorious and harmoiuous system taht China ahd the People’s Communist Party have bestowed upon them.

      What the fuck are you complaining about you Western American running dog?

      • Mikkie

        lol… sorry …

      • mr. wiener

        The Party is setting a very good example for late retirement. What are some of those bastards now, in their 80’s?

    • j.o

      It’s actually going to be harder to provide those social benefits without increasing the working age. China’s pension system is actually fairly screwed in the medium term since its unfunded and returns on the portfolios are basically negative in real terms. This doesn’t even consider the fact that the existing system doesn’t cover most people – if you actually wanted most Chinese people to enjoy increased “social benefits and welfare,” the existing system will only allow this through the current workers basically funding the retirees. And note that this amount will be increasingly large as China’s working to non-working ratio rises almost exponentially. The only way around this is through changing to a funded system – which will be extremely expensive, maybe up to 3-3.5% of GDP (according to Prudential) until the 2020s when it tapers off. In all these cases, increasing the working age will significantly reduce the strain on the economy since it both decreases the number of elderly and increases the working population, and there are significant multiplier effects as well.

      • moop

        “there is going to be some serious shit hitting the fan if the retirement age is raised to that level without some kind of trade off”

        what do you think i meant by “trade off”?

        • mr. wiener

          Possible the party will go into “trading” futures , whilst the workers can fuck “off” :)
          Why not? It happened under Bush.

    • SuperHappyCow


  • robin yates

    the UK is already preparing to do this, making the retirement age for men 67, not 65, and the retirement age for women 62 instead of 60

    • Young Man

      Thge difference is that British people can vote for the paryy that proposes this.

      Can the Chinese do the same?

      • Young Man

        You know what I mean- I’m on holiday and I’m as pissed as a fart.

        • Mikkie

          They can … just like in the rest of the “democratic” europe … but if your views, opinions or preferences are less then politically correct you may wake up stripped of your title and job tomorrow. Seriously, im not sure the Chinese system is any worse when you dissect it

          • hess

            Are you saying that Europe isn’t democratic?

            Och här trodde jag att dom flesta idioterna valde att stanna i Sverige och knulla kossor, men du kom tydligen ut på nått vänster.

  • Jeff

    I think the Chinese should be working in Apple sweatshops till they are 80 damnit!

  • brian

    Hi, please help me understand better. Is this essentially about at what age people become eligible to receive government pension, like Social Security in the US?

    Does anyone know if the Chinese program works similarly to Social Security?

    • Mikkie

      To make a much more complicated question simpler, no they dont!

  • jeffli

    I don’t want to spoil your grandiose bar be que here but has anyone noticed the high rates of
    1. Early onset senility
    2. Shakes looking like Parkinsons disease
    3. Higher incidence in over 50s Huntingtons Chorea

    by 55 years old the Chinese work force is barely usuable except as night watchmen and janitors!

    Why?- a life time of poison food and malnutrition.

    • fredf

      More likely due to a lifetime of smoking and baijiu.

      • Mikkie

        Dude, take a look at the quality of just to mention a few, the food, healthcare, santitation etc…

        Whilst i would probably totally agree baiu and excessive smoking has hardly added any further vitality they are hardly the only major problem.

        • The Enlightened One

          They aren’t the ONLY major problem, but I have read that 1/3 Chinese males die because of either cancer or alcohol related disease.

          Since Chinese females don’t follow this pattern yet live in the same environment, this leaves me to believe that although the food and pollution do take their toll, it is obvious the men are making it much worse by downing the baijiu and smoke like they got nothing to lose.

          • Mikkie

            Fair enough, and whilst to some degree i would probably say thats an easy excuse for cause of death ;), i am quite certain it has quite a bit of truth to it.

          • jeffli

            CHinese females aren’t working in schtoopid factories refining ZINC or other noxious metals

          • Young Man

            Fuck the Chinese males and fuck their life expectancy-

            I’ve nver met a Chinaman [email protected] actually liked (really and deep down) and until the Chinese women breed out the evil trait of ‘Chinese Characteristics’ there’ll be no happiness in the ‘middle kingdom”.

            Ha, ha, ha.

  • nereis

    I wonder if anyone has actually read into the issue on Netease, or if these comments are simply the overwhelming sentiment.

    Simply put, there are 2 ways to approach this issue without raising the retirement age while keeping government transfers the same/indexed to CPI.

    1. Raise taxes on the working population.
    2. Borrow against future tax revenue to support payments.

    The first will negatively impact on economic growth by taking money away from consumer spending and impact on the then working force’s ability to save for their own retirement.

    The second will result in systematically increasing debt burdens that will threaten financial stability if China does not adopt a completely free floating currency.

    In other words, this is a choice between the current working population biting the bullet and making their children pay for it.

    • j.o

      Yes exactly, great explanation. Not to mention whatever benefits that China’s economic growth gained from a rising demographic dividend (working population: non-working population), will start to fall into the negatives over the next few years, as the trend reverses. No matter how great China`s economy seems it actually faces many challenges over the next decade. Whether it actually ends up being economically strong in the 2020s, or ends up in a protracted recession depends on how well it faces these challenges – and this issue is one of the major challenges.

    • Misaki

      >The first will negatively impact on economic growth by taking money away from consumer spending

      Or it might just encourage people to raise prices for goods sold and labour offered.

      This post says that the savings rate is very high in China, and also that due to inflation there is negative real interest on savings in a bank:

      Spending does not have the same effect on the economy if different people are spending money. If wealth is very unequal, then rich people will spend on whatever rich people in China spend their money and so people will be employed in occupations that don’t help poor people.

      For example, working in a KTV because it pays more instead of whatever the alternative might be. If taxes on the rich (or in general) were raised, then people would spend less on KTV and iPhones ( and that money might instead go to improve rural areas or something.

      The issue of rising food prices/inflation is probably independent of whether the living standards in rural areas are going up, if the reason people dislike inflation is its effect on bank savings.

  • The Enlightened One

    I don’t know why people rely on the government or companies for anything that has to do with building a nest egg for the future. I have worked for both areas and neither gives a damn about the people.

    Social security, company pensions… are being continuously cut, denied or delayed.

    In China, I would rather just not pay into social security and stick the money under my mattress or let some rich guy hit me with a car then ask for compensation (which I guess a lot of Chinese do).

    I don’t know why China is worried about filling jobs anyways, isn’t there already a huge unemployment rate? Lots of university educated workers can’t find jobs.

    This just seems like the rich wanting to make an excuse to suck more money out of the people.

    • Dr. Jones Jr.

      As mentioned in the article, the labor force is still forecast to grow until 2015, so you’re unlikely to see such results yet. So, simply put, they’re planning ahead for a demographic nightmare in the future.

      Now as to the surplus of unemployable university educated workers, that’s quite an interesting thing: China has both an oversupply of less-than-qualified university graduates (lowering wages and increasing competition for such jobs as fit that demographic), as well as growing labor shortages for menial labor (i.e. building iphones and the like) which are pushing up wages for all those low value-added jobs that have made China so attractive for FDI/manufacturing outsourcing. So, this upcoming labor shortage is going to seriously undermine the economic model the Chinese have been using so successfully for the past few decades. I don’t blame them for being worried.

  • Uma Maheswar Nakka

    I was retired at the age of 60 in 2006 though I am mentally and physically healthy.
    I do some social humanitarian work assisting my wife with Lions Club activities.

    This is good for the retired people who have no children to take care of them in old age, whose children ignored them, still needs money though not ignored by children to make the ends meet and living in below poverty line.

    But it may be disadvantage to younger generation seeking for jobs.
    All I can say is it is a Good news for the old but definitely bad news for the younger generation.
    Uma Maheswar Nakka

    • jeffli

      I agree in one point, on the other hand watch some under 30 manager yelling at someone who is 60+ ?????? not a good look in any culture.
      My father worked like a devil in a steel factory till he was 60! That was with western labour unions etc.
      I don’t wish it on anyone.

      asking a 50 + person to make the same output as 21 year old? + overtimes + injuries………..stoopid!
      On this point the west has made a mistake.
      At least the romans gave their older slaves easier tasks or option to “honourable death”.

  • eattot

    good,i never pay one coin for social security….
    because i do not think about future much,who knows what will happen…

    • Dr. Jones Jr.

      So many obvious replies possible to this… must resist temptation, must resist temptation.

  • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

    It might actually be beneficial, once you retire everything goes south at a faster rate simply because it isn’t get used as much.

    My grandmothers are a good example when from being a healthy 70 year old to a senile old bat that refuses to even take a bath because she doesn’t recognize the place(even though it is just her new house).

    Whereas the other still works(not as much as she used to but still enough) and she’s still ninety and the worst she has to deal with is the occasional arthritis.

  • rollin wit 9’s

    Moop gets best sofa comment of the year.
    On another note, If China made better efforts to become more international, more individuals would be inclined to step foot inside these wretched borders and seek out employment. At present, opportunities for foreigners in the mainland are severely limited. Having said that, in many western societies there are already systems set up to accommodate aging populations even though they aren’t perfect. As for the mainlanders, increasing the retirement age is just bluff. Its an incentive for ‘the party’ to continue nipping away at the poor people’s income.

    I can’t afford wu mao so im throwing that out there for free.

  • Bunny99

    Why not import 230 million unemployed youths from Europe? I think they have so many to spare. They can work and pay tax. Also, I am sure Africa has plenty of laborers who would love to come to China :)

    What’s wrong with that :-D

    • Anon E Moose

      Well, for one thing their penises will be too huge compared to the locals.

      This will create chaos & unrest, not to mention jealousy, as unbefitting of a harmonious society.

      OTOH, since women tend to live longer than men, the majority of seniors will not be objecting to this demographic shift

  • Rod

    I propose Soylent Green.

  • donscarletti

    I know a bunch of guys who’s fathers retire at 50 when their son gets a good job. It’s hard to respect a guy who plays majiang and Xiangqi all day and drinks baijiu and fucks bottom tier prostitutes at night. One friend I know has a nice young family and a respectable white collar job whereas his father “borrows” his car without asking, mooches his food, board and booze and basically behaves like an irresponsible idiot.

    If working for another half decade is what it takes to make this sort of guy set a better example for their sons, then so be it.

  • Ban retirement. Work until you wanna quit. That’s a good idea for every country.

  • JR

    Can’t say we didn’t warn them this was coming. That’s what happens when you have a nation full of people raised on Mao Zedong Thought Deng Xiaoping Theory instead of critical thinking and creativity. It trickles down until all the nation can do is copy. If all you can do is copy then you better be cheap because anyone can do that. Oh you want more wages now? Well then you’ll have to work a few more years.

    Keep being patriotic and loving China you deadbeats, you’re getting what you deserve.