Equal retirement age

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, March 8, 2011
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Planning for retirement is difficult for anyone, but particularly for women.

It is a known fact: women spend less time in the workforce than men, but they live longer.

Women retire five years earlier than men in China. The retirement age for female workers is 50, and 55 for men. While female officials leave their posts at 55, it is 60 for men of the same status. Such a policy, designed decades ago, is supposed to protect women's health.

In recent years this regulation has been questioned by increasing numbers of women who want to keep their jobs as long as their male colleagues.

Women today have more priorities in their lives than they have ever had - careers, families, friends, health, community and finances. With all these priorities come greater complexities when planning for retirement.

In the 1950s the nation's women were burdened with heavy physical labor in both the factory and the home. They usually had more than two children to take care of. The earlier retirement age for them at that time was considered a means of helping women.

Today many women take the policy as discriminatory. For them, earlier retirement means fewer social welfare benefits.

Generally speaking, the woman in the family is usually younger than her partner and lives longer. The life expectancy for Chinese men is 71 and 74 for women. In some well-off areas like Shanghai, the age is nearly 80 for women.

Women are likely to have more gaps in their employment history since their careers are interrupted to raise children. This means they often enter retirement with fewer assets than men, but they need to make that money last longer.

Retirees can draw pensions based on average salaries in the last year they work. So earlier mandatory retirements also limit women's pension income. Still, women are fully able to work longer than before due to improved working conditions and better health. One child at home makes it possible for mothers to concentrate on their jobs.

However, many working-class women would welcome an early exit from their tedious jobs.

The National People's Congress Standing Committee has announced that it will deliberate on making the retirement age for women the same as that for men.

Equalizing retirement ages for both genders is not only a worldwide trend, but also a logical option. But a more flexible retirement policy would enable women to decide when they want to retire within an upper age limit.

This system would give women the choice.

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