For Meng Shan, a 48-year-old urban management worker in the Chinese city of Nanchang, retirement may not come soon.
Mr. Meng, who is the equivalent of a low-level, unarmed law-enforcement officer, often has to chase unlicensed street vendors, a task he is physically and emotionally able to do. Salary is low. Retirement, even on a government pension, will eventually provide leave.
So Mr. Meng was removed when the Chinese government said it would raise the mandatory retirement age, which is currently 60 for men. He wondered how long his body could handle the work, and whether his employers would dump him before he was eligible for a pension.
“To tell the truth,” he said of the government’s announcement, “It is extremely unfair for us low-level workers.”
China said last month that it would “gradually delay the legal retirement age” over the next five years in an effort to address one of the country’s key issues. Its rapidly growing population means shrinking labor force. There is a danger of running out of state pension funds. And China has the lowest retirement age in the world: 50 for blue-collar female workers, 55 for white-collar female workers, and 60 for most men.
The idea, however, is deeply unpopular. The government has yet to release details of its plan, but older workers have already betrayed their promised deadlines, while the youth worry that competition for jobs, already furious, will intensify.
And blue-collar or physically working workers like Mr. Meng, who still make up most of China’s labor force, say they will be spoiled, unemployed, or both left.
The announcement was made during the annual meeting of the national legislature, and later topics related to retirement were trended on Chinese social media for days, showing millions of views and critical comments.
Around the world, raising the retirement age has emerged as one of the most difficult challenges that the government can take. Russia’s attempt to do so in 2018 led to President Vladimir V. Putin has the lowest approval rating in years. Mr. Putin eventually pushed the plan forward but Concessions granted, a rare step For him.
The pension reform scheme in France prompted a long-term transport strike last year, forcing the government Pass the offer.
The Chinese government itself abandoned a previous attempt to raise the retirement age in 2015, due to a similar outrage.
This time, it seems determined to follow through. But it has also accepted the backlash. Officers appear to be spreading ginger, for now the details are unclear, but suggest the threshold will be raised by just a few months each year.
“They’ve been talking about it for a long time,” he said Albert francis park, An economics professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology who has studied China’s retirement system. “They will have to exercise a bit of determination to really push through it.”
China has been heading towards a retirement age crisis for years. Current standards were set in the 1950s, when the average citizen was expected to live only in their 40s.
But as the country has rapidly modernized, life expectancy has reached around 77 years, accordingly. World bank statistics. Along with isolating the population of China, births have also created a boom. More than 300 million people, about one-fifth of the population, are expected to be over 60 by 2025, according to the government.
The result is what experts call a serious threat to China’s continued economic growth and ability to compete. In Japan and many European countries, residents become eligible for 65 or later pensions. At a recent news conference, Deputy Minister of Human Resources and Social Security Yu Jun said that China risked “wastage of human resources”.
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The backlash has overcome other concerns about issues such as job security, social safety nets and income inequality in Chinese society.
Hyperactive environment Defines many white collar workplaces China is already grinding on Naomi Chen, a 29-year-old financial analyst in Shanghai. She has often discussed it with friends wishing to retire early to avoid pressure, even if it meant living more sparingly.
The government’s announcement only confirmed that wish. China already Struggling to provide enough paid white collar jobs For its balloon rank of university graduates. With fewer retirees, Ms. Chen worries, she will simply be left working with hard work, but with less chance of payment.
“Getting promoted will definitely slow down, because the people above me won’t retire,” she said.
In fact, older workers may suffer more. Professor Park said that China has modernized so quickly that they are far less skilled or educated than their younger counterparts, with some employers reluctant to retain them. In many industries, including tech 35 is seen as an age limit Is being hired.
Delayed retirement is also a risk of reducing another major government priority: encouraging couples to have more children in order to slow the aging of the population.
Due to insufficient childcare resources, most Chinese people rely on grandparents to be the primary caregivers for their children. Now, social media users are asking what will happen if the older generation is still working.
Lu Xia, 26, said the prospect of later retirement made it impossible to consider having a second child. More children are eventually expected to care, which would also mean caring for more grandchildren.
“With the delayed retirement, it is hard to imagine that we will have to face up to the time that we are grandparents,” said Ms. Lu, who lives in Yangquan City, southwest of Beijing.
Until China increases support for child care, new parents may leave the labor force or postpone childbirth until their parents retire, Fang Jin, an economist at Fudan University Told State Supported Labor Publications.
Nevertheless, experts say the cost of inaction will be very high. The 2019 report of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences predicted that the country’s main pension fund would be Run out by 2035, In part due to the decreasing work force.
This has worried some youngsters, who wonder where their own pension will come from if nothing changes.
“I think it’s very reasonable,” said Wang Guohua, a 29-year-old blogger in Hebei Province, about pushing his retirement age back. “If people are still alive, but don’t have much money, it will affect social stability.”
Mr Wang said he had not seen an appeal to retire at the age of 60, noting how much life expectancy had increased: “You don’t have to do anything.”
Indeed, Bian Jianfu, who had recently retired from his job as a manager in a state-owned enterprise in Sichuan Province, said that he might not have made up his mind to work a few years. His pension would also have increased.
Mr. Bian receives about $ 1,000 a month, which is more than double Average For urban retirees. He praised the government for consistently increasing pension payments over the past few decades, although some experts Has accepted The do-it-yourself strain is added to the system. “The Chinese government treats retirees very well,” he said.
But that protection is unevenly distributed, and is likely to remain so even if the government’s pension funds are left out.
Mr. Meng, an urban management worker, is paid about $ 460 per month, of which he pays one-tenth of what he owes to pensions and basic medical insurance funds. When he eventually retires, he hopes to draw from $ 120 to $ 150 a month.
He admitted that it was difficult to live up to that. But he said he could make it work – even though he was now unsure of when the date would arrive.
“Hold on all I can,” said Mr. Meng. “Hold on until I reach the right age.”