Age discrimination is a universal problem in our society. Some recruitment advertisements even publicly state that only those under the age of 35 are wanted for work. Elderly laid-off workers often find it very hard to get a new job. China’s draft 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) includes a recommendation to raise the retirement age. It should also, at the same time, crack down on age discrimination.
The employees in China’s services industry, such as airlines, high-speed trains, museums and real estate agencies, are mostly young people.
However, I have seen not only married air hostesses, but also granny stewardesses in aging societies around the world. In the future, the proportion of young people in China will decline, and some jobs must be reserved for the elderly. Only in this way can a society be healthy and function normally.
Young people should not worry about seniors competing for jobs if their retirement age is postponed. Some jobs are in need of more experience. But in most sectors, young people are more competitive. Our society is aging. This is the big reality. We need to alter our actions according to the changes around us. We must adapt to changes, and find new harmony with these changes too.
Our society is not a cold world that pursues social Darwinism. When the Chinese government formulates policies, it weighs different interests to benefit the most people. Everyone can express their opinions. But I oppose some people’s tough attitude as if they are the most compassionate, as if they care about the world the most. Worse, they tend to believe the government is against the people. I do not know where their moral superiority comes from.
Aging is a demographic trend that cannot be changed, it can only be adapted to. Every problem associated with aging is deeply embedded in our lives. We must optimistically face these adjustments. A family should not quarrel about the elderly. And our society should carry out the governance transition to the process of aging more peacefully than the West did.
The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times.