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March 27, 2010

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Home » Metro » Education

Retirement may come later for city workers

SHANGHAI is likely to loosen the rules on automatic retirement, making it possible for people to keep working past the traditional retirement age, local authorities said yesterday.

Bao Danru, vice director of the Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau, said yesterday that the city will release detailed policies on retirement postponement this year.

"As the life expectancy is increasing, people should have longer careers," Bao explained.

He said the policies will be flexible: people won't be required to retire later. Those who qualify for retirement postponement will be able to discuss their retiring age with their employers.

Bao said the change is needed because the current retirement age "is wasting our talents."

"People with higher education degrees will work for less years than those without if we still stick to the retirement age," Bao said. That's because men and women who spend extra years in school enter the work force later than less-educated workers, giving them fewer years of employment if everyone must quit at the same age.

In China, the retirement age, which was fixed more than 50 years ago, is 60 for men and 50 or 55 for women, depending on the job.

Hu Yanzhao, vice mayor of the city, said earlier this year that postponing people's retirement age will relieve pressure on the city's pension fund, now in deficit.

If people retire later, their incomes would come from employers, Hu said. Thus, both employees and employers would continue to pay social insurance, which would ease the shortage in the pension fund.

But companies usually prefer to retire their employees and then re-recruit them, rather than keep them on longer. This is because a retired employee will receive a monthly pension, enabling the business to justify re-hiring that person at a smaller salary.

By the end of last year, people age 60 and older numbered about 3.15 million, or 22.5 percent of the city's registered population. In five years, that's expected to climb to 4 million and 30 percent of the population.

Extending the retirement age may start with female professionals, according to Hu. He did not mention how many years people should postpone retirement, but many experts have suggested it should be five years.

Professionals -- holders of senior certificates in various fields, such as university professors, engineers, doctors and technicians -- will get the chance to retire later.

"I think it's a good idea for professionals to retire later," said Meng Jie, 24, a postgraduate student. But she worries the policy might hurt young people's employment prospects.

About 168,000 students will graduate from city universities and colleges this summer, 10,000 more than last year.

In addition, more than 10,000 young people who previously graduated but failed to gain employment remain in the crowded job market.


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