China to build unified pension system

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China plans to reform its pension scheme by unifying the two separate systems for urban and rural residents to allow people better access to social benefits, according to a statement issued after the meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on Friday.

As a move to address pension payment gaps between urban and rural areas, the unified system will build stable expectations for improving livelihood and facilitate population movement. It will also boost consumption and encourage more business start-ups.

According to the statement, pension funds will be pooled from individuals, employers and governments at various levels.  More subsidies will be provided by the central government to people in less-developed central and western regions.

The statement said the pension system will serve as a safety net for millions of seniors.

China has the largest senior population in the world, with 194 million people at or above the age of 60 at the end of 2012, according to the China National Committee on Aging.

The age group is expected to grow to 243 million by 2020, and one-third of the population will be over the age of 60 by 2050.

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