Feb 27, 2021 06:30 PM

Chinese Leaders Mulling Retirement Age Rise, Vice Minister Says

What’s new: Chinese leaders are studying a detailed plan to raise the retirement age in response to an aging population, You Jun, a vice minister of human resources and social security, said (link in Chinese) at a Friday press conference in Beijing.

At the end of 2019, 18.1% of China’s population (link in Chinese), or about 250 million people, were aged 60 or above, official data show. The number of “people of advanced age” is expected to exceed 300 million during the next five-year plan that will run through 2025, You said.

The number of people of working age in China — that is, those between 16 and 59 years old — has shrunk by an average of 3 million every year since 2012 and is expected to further decrease by 35 million during the next five years, You said.

The background: China has not changed its retirement age for decades. Current laws permit men to retire at 60 and women to retire at 55 or 50, depending on the nature of their employment.

Decades of economic development have increased life expectancy and sown concerns that the country is ill-prepared to look after its rapidly aging population.

At a key political meeting in October, top Chinese leaders proposed gradually raising the retirement age, but did not publicly disclose specific details.

Xu Zhong, a former head of the People’s Bank of China’s research bureau, wrote in a recent op-ed that the growing proportion of senior citizens in China is widening the country’s pensions gap and making it increasingly hard for the state to ensure it can finance people through their old age.

Related: Weekend Long Read: Why China Can’t Put Off Pension Reform Any Longer

Opinion: Babies Won’t Solve Northeast China’s Population Crisis

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use. To read the full Caixin article in Chinese, click here.

Contact reporter Tang Ziyi ( and editor Matthew Walsh (

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