For Meng Shan, a 48-year-old urban management worker in the Chinese city of Nanchang, retirement can’t come soon enough.
Mr. Meng, who is the equivalent of a low-level, unarmed law-enforcement official, often has to chase down unlicensed street vendors, a task he finds physically and emotionally taxing. Pay is low. Retirement, even on a meager government pension, would finally offer a break.
So Mr. Meng was dismayed when the Chinese government said it would raise the mandatory retirement age, which is currently 60 for men. He wondered how much longer his body could handle the work, and whether his employer would dump him before he became eligible for a pension.
“To tell the truth,” he said of the government’s announcement, “this is extremely unfriendly to us low-level workers.”
granted concessions, a rare move for him.
shelve the proposal.
The Chinese government itself abandoned a previous effort to raise retirement ages in 2015, in the face of a similar outcry.
This time, it seems determined to follow through. But it has also acknowledged the backlash. Officials appear to be treading gingerly, leaving the details vague for now but suggesting that the threshold would be raised by just a few months each year.
“They’ve been talking about it for a long time,” said Albert Francis Park, an economics professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology who has studied China’s retirement system. “They’ll have to really exercise quite a bit of resolve to push it through.”
China has been hurtling toward a retirement age crisis for years. The current standards were set in the 1950s, when the average citizen was expected to live until only his or her early 40s.
But as the country has swiftly modernized, life expectancy has reached nearly 77 years, according to World Bank data. Birthrates have also plummeted, leaving China’s population distinctly top-heavy. More than 300 million people, about one-fifth of the population, are expected to be over 60 by 2025, according to the government.