Old prob­lem

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By HE DAN and FAN FEIFEI Con­tact the writ­ers at hedan@chi­nadaily.com.cn and fan­feifei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s gray-haired pop­u­la­tion gen­er­ally with­draws early from the la­bor mar­ket, but those will­ing to work face age dis­crim­i­na­tion to land a job, an of­fi­cial says.

Mid­dle- aged and el­derly work­ers who are un­em­ployed and still will­ing to work face age dis­crim­i­na­tion when they try to find a job, said a se­nior of­fi­cial of el­derly peo­ple’s af­fairs on Thurs­day.

The av­er­age re­tire­ment age for Chi­nese em­ploy­ees is 53, said Chen Chuanshu, deputy di­rec­tor of the China Na­tional Com­mit­tee on Ag­ing, at a Bei­jing con­fer­ence on vol­un­teer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for re­tirees.

“Most en­ter­prises pre­fer to hire young peo­ple. Many se­niors were forced to leave the em­ploy­ment mar­ket not be­cause they are in­ca­pable of work­ing or their knowl­edge is out­dated, but be­cause of so­cial prej­u­dice and dis­crim­i­na­tory reg­u­la­tions,” he said.

China’s rapidly ag­ing pop­u­la­tion and the rel­a­tively early age at which peo­ple re­tire will place greater pres­sure on the econ­omy, he warned.

China has more than 200 mil­lion peo­ple who are 60 and older this year. A re­port from the United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme in Au­gust pre­dicted that those over 65 will ac­count for 18.2 per­cent of China’s to­tal pop­u­la­tion in 2030, given this year’s rate of 9.1 per­cent.

So­cial par­tic­i­pa­tion, es­pe­cially in the work­place, is a vi­tal way for the el­derly to ob­tain more fi­nan­cial re­sources and a sense of achieve­ment, in ad­di­tion to re­duc­ing their eco­nomic bur­dens, Chen said.

The le­gal re­tire­ment age in China is 60 for male work­ers and of­fi­cials, 50 for fe­male work­ers, and 55 for fe­male of­fi­cials. Chi­nese lead­ers de­cided dur­ing the Third Ple­nary Ses­sion of the 18th Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee in Novem­ber to grad­u­ally raise the re­tire­ment age. How­ever, the spe­cific re­form plan has not been re­vealed yet.

At a news con­fer­ence last Thurs­day, Vice- Min­is­ter of Hu­man Re­sources and So­cial Se­cu­rity Hu Xiaoyi de­nied me­dia spec­u­la­tion that the higher re­tire­ment age will be­gin with civil ser­vants or blue-col­lar work­ers.

He said the gov­ern­ment will pay more at­ten­tion to the em­ploy­ment and train­ing of the mid­dle-aged and el­derly and come up with bet­ter in­cen­tives to keep them em­ployed.

One woman who wasn’t ready to quit work­ing is Shi

Many se­niors were forced to leave the em­ploy­ment mar­ket not be­cause they are in­ca­pable of work­ing or their knowl­edge is out­dated, but be­cause of so­cial prej­u­dice and dis­crim­i­na­tory reg­u­la­tions.” CHEN CHUANSHU DEPUTY DI­REC­TOR OF THE CHINA NA­TIONAL COM­MIT­TEE ON AG­ING

Hui, who re­tired from the Bei­jing Re­search In­sti­tute of Me­chan­i­cal and Elec­tri­cal Tech­nol­ogy in July at the age of 50 and then found a job as a saleswoman at a cloth­ing shop.

“The liv­ing pres­sure is great for me be­cause my pen­sion is only half my work­ing wage be­fore re­tire­ment,” the for­mer of­fice clerk said.

Work­ing makes life more ful­fill­ing and in­ter­est­ing, she added.

How­ever, job op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able for the re­tired are lim­ited, and some em­ploy­ers want to re­cruit young peo­ple so they can “es­tab­lish a bet­ter cor­po­rate im­age”, she said.

Guo Ping, a re­searcher from the China Re­search Center on Ag­ing, said re­tired doc­tors and engi­neers usu­ally en­joy more op­por­tu­ni­ties than their bluecol­lar peers in the job mar­ket be­cause doc­tors and engi­neers are val­ued for their years of ex­pe­ri­ence, so re­tired pro­fes­sion­als ac­tu­ally are more com­pet­i­tive on the job mar­ket than young grad­u­ates are.

The China Na­tional Com­mit­tee on Ag­ing launched a cam­paign called “Gray-haired Ac­tion” that en­cour­ages re­tired pro­fes­sion­als, in­clud­ing med­i­cal per­son­nel and sci­en­tists from big cities, to vol­un­teer in eco­nom­i­cally less-de­vel­oped re­gions in 2003.

About 5 mil­lion el­derly vol­un­teers from 31 prov­inces and re­gions have par­tic­i­pated in the cam­paign and gen­er­ated eco­nomic value of about 8 bil­lion yuan ($1.32 bil­lion).


Chen Guokun, 72, teaches a stu­dent how to use a cal­lig­ra­phy brush at a pri­mary school in Ho­hhot, the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion, in March. Chen is a re­tired teacher but has vol­un­teered at the school for more than a year.

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