CoPS/IMPACT Working Paper Number G-303

Title: Population Ageing and the Impact of Later Retirement on the Pension System in China: An Applied Dynamic General Equilibrium Analysis

Authors: Xuejin Zuo, Xiujian Peng, Xin Yang, Philip Adams and Meifeng Wang


China's population is rapidly ageing because of the sustained low fertility and increasing life expectancy. At the end of 2019, the elderly 65 and older accounted for 12.6 percent of the total population, compared to around seven percent in 2000. It will continue to increase to 31 percent in 2050. Rapid ageing imposes a big challenge to sustainable growth. The Chinese government is considering increasing the retirement age as a remedy to the challenge of population ageing.

Using a dynamic general equilibrium model of the Chinese economy, this paper explores the implications of raising the retirement age on economic growth and pension sustainability in China over the period of 2020 to 2100. In the baseline scenario, we assume that China maintains its current retirement age. The simulation results reveal that growth in the labour force would turn negative because of population ageing. Thus China has to rely on technology improvement and capital stock increases to support its economic growth. Without reforming the current pension system, China's pension account will accumulate huge debts. The debt plus the interest obligation will put high pressure on the general government budget. By the end of this century, the general government budget deficit will reach to 22 percent of GDP.

In the policy scenario, we assume that China will gradually increase the retirement age from 58 to 65 years old starting from 2020. The simulation results show that increasing the retirement age is a powerful policy in the short to medium term. It will boost China's economic growth and reduce the pension fund deficit significantly because it will not only increase the labour force but also reduce the number of pensioners by delaying them access to the pension fund. However, the effectiveness of the policy depends on how much the labour force participation rate for people aged 58 to 65 can be increased.

JEL classification: J11, J26, C68

Keywords: Population ageing, retirement age, labour force participation, pension, economic growth, CGE model

Working Paper Number G-303 can be downloaded in PDF format. To print this you will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Accompanying Excel files may be downloaded from: here.

Go to working papers page