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Webinar on Pensions and Retirement in Asia


Webinar on Pensions and Retirement in Asia

Presented by the International Pension Research Association (IPRA)

28 September 2022, 10am-12pm UTC Time Zone | 8-10pm AEST Sydney  (for other time zones, please click here)

Webinar Chairperson: Dr Mike Orszag, Head of Research, WTW

Speakers include:

  • Professor Sagiri Kitao, University of Tokyo
  • Dr George Kudrna, CEPAR, UNSW Sydney
  • Professor Yaohui Zhao, Peking University
  • Professor Hanming Fang, University of Pennsylvania

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Please note: The program times shown are Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) - please convert the program timing according to your personal time zone.

Time AEST, Sydney, Australia



Welcome & Opening Remarks

John Piggott, CEPAR Director, UNSW Sydney

Mike Orszag, Head of Research, WTW


Why Women Work at the Way They Do in Japan: Roles of Fiscal Policies

Sagiri Kitao, University of Tokyo


Q&A discussion 


Macro-Demographics and Ageing in Emerging Asia: The Case of Indonesia

George Kudrna, CEPAR, UNSW Sydney


Q&A discussion 


One Country, Two Systems: Evidence on Retirement Patterns in China

Yaohui Zhao, Peking University


Q&A discussion


Delay the Pension Age or Adjust the Pension Benefit?  Implications for Labour Supply and Individual Welfare in China

Hanming Fang, University of Pennsylvania


Q&A discussion


Closing Remarks


Why Women Work at the Way They Do in Japan: Roles of Fiscal Policies

Sagiri Kitao, University of Tokyo

Abstract: Women work less often and earn significantly less than men in Japan. We use panel data to investigate employment and earnings dynamics of single and married women over the life-cycle and build a structural model to study the roles of fiscal policies in accounting for their behavior. We show that eliminating spousal deductions, social insurance premium exemptions and survivors’ pension benefits for low-income spouses would significantly raise the labor supply of women and their earnings. More women would opt for regular jobs rather than contingent jobs, accumulate more human capital, and enjoy higher income growth. The government would earn higher net revenues and there is a welfare gain when additional taxes are transferred back.

Sagiri Kitao is Professor of Economics at the Graduate School of Economics, University of Tokyo, and Senior Fellow at the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI). Her research area is macroeconomics. She specializes in quantitative analysis of public policies such as tax and social security system, using macroeconomic models that incorporate heterogeneous individual and household behaviors. She holds a Master of Public Administration/International Development from Harvard University and a PhD in Economics from New York University.

Macro-Demographics and Ageing in Emerging Asia: The Case of Indonesia
George Kudrna, CEPAR, UNSW Sydney

Abstract: In common with a number of other emerging economies in South East Asia, Indonesia is confronting rapid demographic transition at a low level of per capita income. The fourth largest country in the world by population size, Indonesia will face new challenges for fiscal sustainability and policy design, as in coming decades its labour force begins to shrink, and the older population becomes relatively more numerous. In this paper, we demonstrate how strong data sources, from international agencies, national sources, and surveys of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) family, are available and can be combined to generate a statistical profile of an emerging economy. Such profiles have value in themselves but can also be used as the basis for specifying macroeconomic models of demographic transition, of the overlapping generations (OLG) type, and for various other purposes. The profile presented here will serve to inform both policymakers and the broader community of the long-run trends which will inexorably impact Indonesian society in coming decades. It indicates that major social protection policy development will be needed over the next period to avert widespread hardship, especially among older cohorts.

George Kudrna is a CEPAR Senior Research Fellow, located in the UNSW Business School. He completed his undergraduate studies in economics and insurance studies in the Czech Republic, and received a PhD in Economics from the University of Sydney in 2009.

His research encompasses the areas of public economics, macroeconomics, population ageing and computational economics. He develops and applies rigorous macroeconomic models to investigate the economic impacts of demographic change and retirement income policy reforms – with the ultimate aim of informing and influencing major policy decisions in this area. His research on pension and ageing related topics has been published in both national and international economics journals, with recent publications, for example, in the European Economic Review, Macroeconomic Dynamics and Economic Record. He has also co-authored several government reports on pension and tax related issues, including commissioned reports for the Australian Treasury, for the Michigan Retirement Research Center (MRRC) and U.S. Social Security Administration, and for the Norwegian Fafo Research Foundation and Frisch Centre. 

George currently leads an ARC linkage grant “Policy Modelling for Ageing in Emerging Economies: The Case of Indonesia”, which involves the World Bank and Indonesian Ministry of National Development Planning (Bappenas) as partner organisations. He is also affiliated with the Global Labour Organization (GLO), the Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis (CAMA) at ANU and UNSW Ageing Asia Research Hub.

One Country, Two Systems: Evidence on Retirement Patterns in China

Yaohui Zhao, Peking University

Abstract: This paper documents the patterns and correlates of retirement in China using a nationally representative survey, the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study. After documenting stark differences in retirement ages between urban and rural residents, the paper shows that China's urban residents retire earlier than workers in many Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries and that rural residents continue to work until advanced ages. Differences in access to generous pensions and economic resources explain much of the urban-rural difference in retirement rates. Fending off the fiscal pressures resulting from rapid population aging will require encouraging longer working lives among more highly educated and skilled workers living in China's urban areas. The paper suggests that reducing disincentives created by China's employee pension system, improving health status, providing childcare, and elder care support may all facilitate longer working lives. Given spouse preferences for joint retirement, creating incentives for women to retire later may facilitate longer working lives for men and women.

Yaohui Zhao is Yangtze River Scholar Professor of economics at the National School of Development of Peking University. She received B.A. and M.A. in economics from Peking University and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago. Her research interests include labor, health and demographic economics. She has been the Principal Investigator of the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) since 2007 and is Associate Director of the Institute of Social Science Surveys of Peking University.

Delay the Pension Age or Adjust the Pension Benefit?  Implications for Labour Supply and Individual Welfare in China

Hanming Fang, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract: We develop and calibrate a life-cycle model of labour supply and consumption to quantify the implications of alternative pension reforms on labour supply, individual welfare, and government budget for China’s basic old-age insurance program. We focus on urban males and distinguish low-skilled and high-skilled individuals, who differ in their preferences, health and labour income dynamics, and medical expense processes. We use the calibrated model to evaluate three potential pension reforms: (i) increasing the pension eligibility age from 60 to 65, but keeping the current pension benefit rule unchanged; (ii) keeping the pension eligibility age at 60, but proportionally lowering pension benefits so that the pension program’s budget is the same as under Reform (i); and (iii) increasing the pension eligibility age to 65 and simultaneously increasing the pension benefits so that individuals of both skill types attain the same individual welfare levels as in the status quo. We find that relative to the baseline, both Reforms (i) and (ii) can substantially improve the budgets of the pension system, but at the cost of substantial individual welfare loss for both skill types. In contrast, we find that Reform (iii) can modestly improve the budget of the pension system while ensuring that both skill types are as well off as in the status quo. We find that Reforms (i) and (ii) slightly increases, but Reform (iii) slightly decreases, the overall labour supply.

Hanming Fang is Joseph M. Cohen Term Professor of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds a secondary appointment at the Department of Health Care Management and the Department of Business Economics and Public Policy at the Wharton School.

Professor Fang is an applied microeconomist with broad theoretical and empirical interests focusing on public economics, including topics such as discrimination, social insurance, and welfare reform, health insurance markets, and population aging. In 2008, Professor Fang was awarded the 17th Kenneth Arrow Prize by the International Health Economics Association (iHEA) for his research on the sources of advantageous selection in the Medigap insurance market. He was elected as a Fellow of the Econometric Society in 2018.

Professor Fang is currently working on issues related to insurance markets, particularly the interaction between the health insurance reform and the labor market, and the alternative health insurance reform proposals. He also studies the Chinese economy, particularly on issues related to political economy, population aging and social security.

He has served as a co-editor for leading economics journals, including the Journal of Public Economics and the International Economic Review, and has served on the editorial board for numerous journals. He currently serves as a senior editor for the Journal of Risk and Insurance, and is on the editorial committee of Annual Review of Economics (2020-2024). He is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), where he served as the acting director of the Chinese economy working group from 2014 to 2016. He is also a research associate of the Population Studies Center and Population Aging Research Center, and a Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, an Executive Committee Member of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China, all at the University of Pennsylvania. He also served as the Scientific Director of Australia-China Population Aging Research Hub at the University of New South Wales in Australia, and is a Senior Fellow of the Asian Bureau of Economic and Finance Research (ABFER) in Singapore and a Research Fellow of the IZA in Germany.

Professor Fang received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2000. Before joining the Penn faculty, he held positions at Yale University and Duke University.

About the International Pension Research Association (IPRA)

IPRA is an international organisation established with the aim of improving the quality and impact of research on pensions and related ageing issues to optimise social and economic outcomes for an ageing world. Its inaugural executive committee comprises representatives of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR), the Pension Research Council at the Wharton School of the University of PennsylvaniaNetspar at Tilburg University, WTW, the International Organisation of Pension Supervisors (IOPS), and the OECD.

For more information visit iprassn.org.

For media or event enquiries, please contact Silke Weiss.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022 - 20:00
End date: 
Wednesday, September 28, 2022 - 22:00