China voices: China's pensions problem
- 13 September 2010
- From the section Asia-Pacific
By 2050 a quarter of China's population - almost 400 million people - will be over 60 years old. Already Chinese people cannot rely on state pensions to cover the cost of their retirement. Here the BBC's Chinese Service talks to people across China about their provisions for old age.
Tung Chak-Man, retired driving instructor, Hong Kong
I am 80 this year. I was a driving instructor before I retired, and also managed a few taxis. I don't have a pension or other benefits, and I am living entirely on my savings. My children sometimes give me money too, so living costs are not a big problem.
Our house cost HK$500,000 (£48,000), and we can live here forever, until we die.
Fang, farmer in Hunan Province, China
Fang is in his 30s. In Hunan, there is no pension scheme yet for farmers but if there were he says he would definitely join.
The government has proposed a pension for rural workers but Fang says the payments would be inadequate. The most basic pays only 55 yuan a month (£5), and the highest no more than 100 yuan. He says a kilo of rice costs him two yuan, so this is not much to live on.
He says if the payments are not increased then peasants will have to rely on their children.
Peng Zhiming, retired media executive, Taiwan
When I retired last year, I was 51 years old. I have two pensions from previous jobs, and my investment in property is insured, so even if I live for another 30 or 40 years, I should have enough to live on.
My company pension worked like this - I contributed 15% of my monthly salary, the company put in 7.5%, so around 22.5% of my monthly salary went towards my pension. I could invest this in up to nine different funds.
After three years' full service, I was eligible to leave or retire and take away the investment and the profits made.
Wang, civil servant, China
Wang is in her 20s and as a civil servant she is eligible for a state pension. She says people in her age group don't think of a pension as a priority as old age is a long way off.
Under the current system, she will receive 80-90% of her salary when she retires. Wang says such a high income in retirement, and not having to contribute to the pension plan now, makes being a civil servant very attractive.
But she says she would like to see the system changed because if she were to change jobs, her years with the civil service would not count towards her future pension.
Wong Yeung, retired deliveryman, Hong Kong
I am 71 years old. I delivered goods for an electrical appliances firm before retirement. I was living in a council house before, but because my son was on drugs, I had to move out.
I get about HK$3,900 (£325) in social security payouts from the government each month, and after paying the rent, there's around HK$2,300 left.
Just feeding myself costs me at least HK$70 each day. I used to have a pension of HK$100,000. Rent, food, etc ate that up long ago.
I don't have much to do. I go to the park every day, buy a meal box (takeaway) in the evening, and then go to bed. I don't know when I can have government housing again.