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Chinese 'Optimistic' About Retirement
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Improbable as it may seem, a survey by a multinational insurance firm found that many Chinese people regard retirement as an "active, financially favorable new life".

Results of the survey, compiled by AXA-Minmentals Assurance, a Sino-French joint venture insurance company in Shanghai, showed that Chinese people's optimism and voluntarism toward retirement is "quite similar" with that of the West, according to Jamie McCarry, chief executive officer of AXA-Minmentals.

"Chinese people are also more active and optimistic toward retirement compared with other countries in Asia" while sharing similar family values and respect for elderly people, McCarry said yesterday at a press briefing to announce results of the survey.

The survey named "AXA Retirement Scope" was carried out in 16 of the world's major industrialized countries with a total sample of 11,590 people.

In the 17-day China survey, AXA interviewed 1,003 working people aged above 25, and 999 retirees aged under 75 years in five of the largest Chinese cities, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Tianjin and Chongqing.

People in China are happy, especially in big cities such as Shanghai and Tianjin, according to the survey.

Eight out of 10 people interviewed said they were happy or very happy. They said their happiness was linked to income and good health.

Three-quarters of the working people and two-thirds of the retirees said their income would be sufficient to support their lifestyle after retirement, topping other countries around the world.

They believed their living standard and quality of life would be improved after retirement because of China's consistent strong economic growth.

Although enjoying sufficient retirement income, few retired Chinese showed interest in leisure and holidays. They focused more on family affairs and taking care of their health.

The survey showed the working set save an average of 625 yuan (US$80) per month for retirement, showing a realization of the importance of financial planning.

The average personal monthly pension income for retirees is 966 yuan (US$123).

About one-third of the working set begin to prepare for their retirement at 37 years old on average, while the retirees prepared for it much later, at 47.

Government remains the cornerstone of the retirement system for three-fourths of working people and nearly nine out of 10 retirees.

"But the idea of individual responsibility for retirement income is growing faster in China," said McCarry.

Two-thirds of working people said the individual should bear some responsibility, while one-third of retirees agreed.

(China Daily March 14, 2007)

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