China's Long March to Retirement Reform
April 22, 2009
China’s Long March to Retirement Reform: The Graying of the Middle Kingdom Revisited warns that the aging of China’s population could usher in a new era of slower economic growth and mounting social stress as tens of millions of Chinese arrive at old age over the next few decades without pensions and with inadequate family support. The report evaluates recent government efforts to prepare for the challenge and outlines an ambitious new reform plan. The plan provides for a universal poverty backstop that would protect all Chinese against an uncertain old age. It would also create a national and fully portable system of funded retirement accounts that would allow a growing share of China’s elderly to enjoy a comfortable retirement without overburdening China’s smaller working generation.
With China confronting a serious near-term economic slowdown, some may conclude that now is not the right time to address the long-term aging challenge. The CSIS report argues that China’s age wave is approaching so fast—and its potential economic and social costs are so large—that delay is not an option. Concerted action on the long-term challenge is needed now to ensure that China’s economic fundamentals remain strong as recovery begins. Indeed, it may even hasten recovery by bolstering confidence in the government’s economic and social stewardship.