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Expert Suggests Putting Off Retirement Age to Cope with Aging Society

China needs to adopt a package of measures, including postponing the retirement age, to deal with the aging of the population, said a renowned Chinese expert.

"The retirement age for men and women should be postponed to 63or 65 or even further to deal with a labor shortfall," said Hu An'gang, director of the National Conditions Research Center of Tsinghua University.

Under Chinese law, a man retires at 60, women cadres at 55 and women workers at 50.

China's Social Sciences Academic Press published a book, which contains research reports by Hu An'gang and other leading Chinese experts on the issue of aging population, last month.

It predicts that by the middle of this century, there will be more than 400 million senior citizens over 60, or 30 percent of the entire population. By then, every two workers will need to provide for one senior citizen.

"One of the direct results of the aging society is a drop in the labor force supply, which leads to an overall reshaping of society," said Gu Baochang, professor of the population and development center of prestigious Renmin University in Beijing.

In the book, the experts also recommend improving education to enhance the skills of the workforce, which may partly offset the influence of a labor force decrease, and improving the health system.

A report on senior citizens, released by a national work committee in February this year, says that China entered the aging society in 1999 when citizens aged over 60 exceeded 10 percent of the total population for the first time. This was "too early" and has left China ill-prepared.

Developed countries started to age after carrying out modernization, and with per capita GDP of US$5,000 to 10,000.

By contrast, China has entered the aging society without having fully modernized and its economy is still undeveloped, with per capita GDP just over US$1,000. It therefore lacks the economic muscle needed to tackle the aging issue.

(Xinhua News Agency September 21, 2006)

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