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Pension for the Aged

China Daily

November 21, 2008




Nothing could be more miserable for an aged person than having to constantly struggle with financial worries. No wonder the moral fiber of a society is often judged by how it cares for its old.

The decision of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security to raise the pensions for retirees nationwide by 10 percent from January reflects the moral underpinning of State policy. This is one of the ways a society and state repay the debt to the retirees.

Most retirees, those in their 70s or older in particular, belong to the generation that had contributed to the industrial construction in the 1950s or 60s. They make the generation that had suffered the most in the great famine lasting three years from the end of 1950s to the early 1960s. Theirs is also the generation that had experienced the upheaval of the "cultural revolution" (1966-76).

Their generation knew pretty well how hard life was when most daily necessities were rationed. They had gone through the years when their low salary, unchanged for many years, was barely enough to make ends meet.

If anything, they were part of the historically unfortunate generation because they reached retirement age when the country's economy just started yielding the fruits of the economic reform and opening up in the early 1980s. And more unfortunate ones among them were laid off during the restructuring of the State-owned enterprises from the 80s to the 90s of the last century.

They were not born late enough to get a handsomely paid job in a foreign company or a joint venture. Nor were they fortunate enough to be at the right age to take national college entrance examinations when these were resumed in 1977.

They are actually from a generation that faced other forms of helplessness. They were assigned a job upon their graduation from high schools or polytechnics, and then were nailed on that job until their retirement. They had no chance to choose a job on their own under the planned economy.

They are now in their late 60s, 70s or even 80s. The monthly pensions for retirees from the State-owned enterprises will be 1,200 yuan ($176) on the average by the year 2010 after they have been raised for six consecutive years starting from 2005. It is not difficult to figure out how meager their pensions were four years ago.

It would be wrong to take it for granted that they are not contributors to the country's economic prosperity although many of them retired in the early 1980s or even earlier. The basic industries they made great efforts to build in the early years of the republic are actually the foundation on which today's economic miracle is created.

Even if late in life, they deserve to share the fruits of economic reform and opening up. So the central government's decision to raise their pensions is an absolutely right and necessary step that has not come a day too soon. It will help them live the winter years of their lives without worrying about providing for basic necessities.

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