Retirement Evolves in China

Retirement is changing, especially in China. Many in the country expect to spend 20-25 years in retirement — above the global average of 15-20 years. This will require flexibility in benefits and savings and will affect decisions to continue working or adjust lifestyles.

People in China are more likely to see themselves living past age 100 compared to other nations surveyed. For many, the statutory retirement age belongs to a bygone era, since if people live longer, they likely will want to, or have to, do some kind of work when they retire.

Mercer’s recent study, Healthy, Wealthy and Work-Wise: The New Imperatives for Financial Security, looked at the forces that impact beliefs about retirement. The results from China offered a glimpse as to how the country views retirement, especially as its middle class grows, urbanization expands, and the nation promotes to delay the retirement age.

The Mercer study suggests that the Chinese place a heavy reliance on external sources — such as government, pension funds, employers, family, life insurance and financial advisors — to provide for them in retirement and a trust of all as potential sources of financial advice.

The Chinese view of a good lifestyle in retirement is being able to spend time with loved ones. 43% --  more so than other nations — expect to be able to maintain their desired quality of life after fully retiring. They are prepared to save more now and take on part-time work to make this happen.

More than any other segment in the survey, 72% of millennials in China expect to keep working in later life and, yet, even more, 76%, expect to maintain their desired quality of life in retirement. It is evident they need assistance in calculating the income needed for retirement: only 9% of Millennials have made the calculations themselves, while 77% have done so with help.

As digital natives, not surprisingly, they are the most interested in online tools and mobile apps. In fact, nearly all, 99%, of 18- to 34-year-olds say online financial tools are of interest and 94% are willing to allow online apps to hold personal information — among the highest levels in the global survey.

Employers play a big role in workers’ lives, beyond just providing a paycheck. They can help people understand – and manage -- their finances and help plan for the future. Workers are open to being guided, largely because for many, the tools for retirement didn’t exist before. In an emerging market like China, this is huge opportunity for organizations.

Alex Tschai
by Alex Tschai

Director, Principal actuary of retirement consulting

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