Money Moves

Expert calls on government to scrap retirement age

by Mary Luk

Sarah Harper, director of the Oxford Institute of Ageing at the University of Oxford presents HSBC's Future of Retirement Survey results
Photo: Ringo Lee

Hong Kong's ageing population is a concern for both the government and the corporate sector, which are contemplating measures to overcome the foreseeable shortage of manpower. According to Sarah Harper, director of the Oxford Institute of Ageing at the University of Oxford and adviser to HSBC on global ageing, one way to maintain the territory's competitiveness in the business world is to scrap or extend workers' retirement age.

Dr Harper made the recommendations at a recent presentation on population crisis sponsored by HSBC. The bank's Future of Retirement Survey 2006 found that Hong Kong faces the challenge of an impending skills shortage as it experiences one of the world's lowest fertility rates and longest life expectancies. The study is based on interviews with 22,000 individuals and 6,000 private sector employers across 21 countries and territories including Canada, the US, the UK, Sweden, Singapore and Hong Kong.

An expert on population studies, Dr Harper suggested Hong Kong could follow European countries like the UK by abolishing the mandatory retirement age or increasing it from 65 to 68. "For mature workers, once their children are grown up, they are happy to be more mobile and continue to work. They still have the desire to work and the market wants them," she noted.

She pointed out that, in the HSBC survey, over 90 per cent of Hong Kong employers polled said their older workers were as loyal and reliable as younger ones, and two-thirds saw them as at least as productive, saying they tried to encourage them to remain in the workplace. Nearly 60 per cent felt that early retirement meant a loss of valuable skills and knowledge. Some employers were also willing to retain and retrain more mature workers. The findings showed that two-thirds of local respondents believed either the government or their children would have to bear the financial costs of their retirement.

As elderly people leave the workforce, it places a significant burden on the pension, medical and social care systems. Dr Harper believes that if elderly people are able to keep working, they can be economically active, boosting the economy rather than draining it.

In putting forward a series of solutions to the potential problem facing Hong Kong, Dr Harper concluded: "As the ageing population crisis is still a way off, Hong Kong still has the luxury of time to consider and implement an effective retirement strategy without adversely affecting productivity."

Taken from Career Times 28 July 2006, p. A2
讚好 CTgoodjobs 專頁,獲取更多求職資訊!

Free Subscription