China will set plan for raising retirement age next year: media

BEIJING (Reuters) - China, whose state pension fund is under pressure to break even in coming years, will formalize a plan in 2017 to raise the official retirement age, China News Service reported on Sunday, citing a senior government researcher.

The semi-official news agency quoted Jin Weigang, head of research in the Ministry of Human Resource and Social Security, as saying a policy change would take about five years to phase in.

At present, China’s official retirement age for most men is 60. For women, it is 55 for civil servants and employees for state enterprises, and 50 for others.

The media report did not speculate on what changes might be made in retirement ages.

Analysts have long warned about China’s state pension having a severe funding shortage. Some estimate the cash shortfall could rise to be nearly $11 trillion in the next 20 years.

Jin was quoted as cautioning that a retirement policy change should allow flexibility and take into account the needs of various labor groups, and “should not consider only the revenues and expenditures of the pension fund”.

In coming years, the proportion of Chinese over age 60 will rise to 39 percent of the population, from 15 percent now, Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security said last year.

Reporting by Chen Aizhu and Clark Li; Editing by Richard Borsuk