Does a universal non-contributory social pension make sense for rural China?

Ce Shen
Jessica Johnson
Zhenhe Chi
John B. Williamson

Volume 73 (2020), Issue 2

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China’s pension reform during the past three decades has allowed a majority of China’s population to be covered by a pension scheme. Of particular note has been the New Rural Pension Scheme (NRPS), a voluntary programme introduced starting in 2009. One goal of our analysis is to assess that pension scheme, using a variety of sources of information including data drawn from recent (2013 and 2015) nationwide China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Surveys (CHARLS). Our analysis involves an exploration of differences between the generosity and structure of the NRPS and other pension schemes currently in place. We also explore the feasibility of reforming the current “quasi-social pension” component of the NRPS by substituting a universal non-contributory social pension pillar. In connection with our assessment of the NRPS, we note the unusually low benefit levels for rural China.

Old-age pensions
old-age benefit
universal benefit scheme
social security financing
rural population