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More People 'Save for Retirement'
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Li Guangming is only 40, and began saving for his retired life at an even younger age. In fact, he was just 35 when he started depositing about 10,000 yuan ($1,280) a month in his bank as investment for his old age.

"The paltry amount of pension and the government retirement wage that I will get after retirement won't be enough to live a decent life," said Li, who is a senior director of a government institution in Beijing.

"I have no kids to rely on. So the only solution is to save earlier and make investment plans," Li said.

Li is among an increasing number of middle-aged working people in China who are planning well in advance for retirement. A recent report shows one-third of the Chinese are preparing for retirement at an average age of 37. Those who have already retired began planning at an average age of 47, though.

The report, AXA Retirement Scope, is a global survey on life, work and retirement. AXA is a leading financial insurance and wealth management firm, and conducted the survey in 16 countries and asked 11,590 people about their financial planning, quality of life and views on retirement.

China was included in the survey for the first time, which covered 1,003 working people aged 25 and above and 997 retirees (75 and above) in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing and Tianjin.

The report said the Chinese respondents were one of the most content and happy groups among all countries surveyed. "People in China are enthusiastic early retirees," the report said.

"They are willing to spend time with the family and relatives after retirement, and believe they can have a healthy income in their old age."

Eight out of 10 people surveyed in China were happy or very happy, factors linked to income and health and a country's economic growth.

The Chinese people are saving a significant amount of their income 625 yuan ($80.3) on average for their retired lives in a welcome change in trend.

The savings may be lower than those in some of the other economies surveyed, but they are up to 60 percent of the personal monthly income of 966 yuan ($123.8) of the retirees.

"It shows that the Chinese have started to realize the importance of financial planning for retirement," the report said. Also, the idea of individual responsibility for a retired life is catching fast.

In China, the government is the cornerstone of the retirement system for about 75 percent of the working population and nearly 90 percent of the retirees.

But two-thirds of working people surveyed said they should bear some responsibility.

Despite the obligatory contribution still being the primary means of retirement income, the working population has multiplied its financial investment in stocks and property fund.

The survey shows 53 percent people in China invest in life insurance, 35 percent in stocks, funds and savings accounts, and 23 percent in real estate.

(China Daily April 16, 2007)

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