China has increased the government-run basic pension this year, for the 13th straight year, but at a slower pace compared to previous years amid pressure from the economic slowdown and the ageing population.
Starting from the beginning of this year, the average monthly payment for retirees from enterprises, government agencies and public institutions has been lifted by 5.5% from 2016 levels, reported the Xinhua News Agency citing a circular issued last Friday by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) and the Ministry of Finance.
The increase, which benefits 106 million retirees across China, is lower than the 6.5% pension rise last year.
Authorities attribute the slower increase to moderating economic growth and a rapidly ageing society, which result in a heavier burden on pension funds.
China raised pensions by at least 10% annually during the 2005-2015 period before the pace slackened in 2016.
From 2005 to 2016, the average monthly pension payment for enterprise retirees went up to CNY2,400 (US$348) from around CNY640, official data show.
This year's 5.5% increase in pensions outpaces the 2% growth in the consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, last year. Meanwhile, the average salary level of employees grew by about 6.3% year-on-year in the first three quarters of last year, while China's annual GDP growth was 6.7% in 2016, both slowing from a year earlier.
Concerns about pensions have increased as the population ages. Seven provincial-level regions saw deficits in staete-run pension funds last year.
The government estimates that the number of people aged over 60 in China will reach 255 million, 17.8% of the country's total population, by 2020.