China’s pension fund will come under tremendous pressure to break even in coming years and as such, the government needs to gradually raise the official retirement age to salvage the finances, a top official said on Tuesday.
Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security, said the government will gradually raise the official retirement age, which is as low as 50 for some female workers, but stressed that any policy changes will be phased in over five years.
He did not say when retirement ages will be raised.
Analysts have long warned about China’s state pension crisis and the severe funding shortage, with some estimating that the cash shortfall could rise to as high as nearly $11 trillion in the next 20 years.
Yin said the finances were not as dire for the moment, but warned about challenges ahead.
“The pension fund faces tremendous pressure in terms of breaking even in future,” he told reporters at a news briefing on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China’s parliament.
The fund’s income stood at 2.3 trillion yuan (243.28 billion pounds) in 2014, exceeding its expenditure of 2 trillion yuan for the year, he said.
But in coming years, the proportion of Chinese over the age of 60 will rise to 39 percent of the population, from 15 percent now, Yin said.