Retirement and the Myanmar People
In Myanmar the term ‘Retirement’ manifests a much different vision of the future than it does in most developed countries. It would even be appropriate to state that it is a word that holds near to its definition some expressions of fear, anxiety, and even more-so, concern for the wellbeing of family stability for the people of Myanmar.
In 2010, the population recorded that over 60 years of age persons summed 4,132,334 (8%) of the population. In 2050 this is estimated to expound to 26% (17,332,117). Though Myanmar is still a relatively young country, it is experiencing a gradual demographic transition with the share of older people starting to increase significantly. (UN Population Prospects, 2012)
At present, older people not only rely on their children for economic support, they also often live with them or very close. However, these family structures may well start to erode over time. Large shares of households are vulnerable to the danger of falling into poverty due to ill-health and other devastations. The volatility of household incomes and exposure to risks is a serious concern. Health distresses are the most commonly experienced household-level shocks: health outcomes are relatively poor and out-of-pocket private health expenditure in Myanmar is estimated to be as high as 60% of total health expenditure in 2012/13(World Bank, 2015c). Illness, accident or death of the income earner can be devastating in terms of the expenses associated with health care and lost income. This is particularly true for the vast majority of workers – nearly 71 percent – who are employed in the informal sector, with little job security.
Myanmar has a mix of contributory and non-contributory programs providing some elements of social security but for a very small section of the population. The government is considering reforms to its pension and other social security schemes. Strengthening systems and ensuring fiscal sustainability should be a priority before implementing new provisions that may strain current delivery and financial management systems and to avoid crowding out other social spending. Should the proposed reforms be introduced, a very gradual transition is advisable. The reforms should aim to develop integrated, or at least harmonized, social security schemes for both public and private sector workers in the formal sector. It will also be critical to have a clear roadmap for long-term coverage expansion to a larger share of the population, particularly the poor and vulnerable.
The World Bank Group
Economic activity and income
The vast majority of older women and men (94%) have been economically active during their lives. Of these, about 60% were primarily engaged in agriculture, either as farmers or agricultural labourers. About 10% engaged in non-agricultural labour and about the same percentage were formally employed, both situations being more common among those living in urban areas. Yet economic activity declines rapidly with age. About half of those aged 60–64 worked during the previous year, but among people aged 70–74 this proportion drops to less than a quarter (23%). Men are twice as likely as women to remain economically active, and older people in rural areas remain economically active longer than their urban counterparts.
As income from work declines, support from children becomes more significant. Over 80% of all respondents receive some material support (cash or goods) from their children. Children are the main source of support for about 60% of older people. Nevertheless, close to a fourth of older people reported that income from their own or their spouse’s work was still their main source of support.
Pensions are very rare. Among older people in rural areas, only a few percent reported any income from a pension compared to about a fifth of urban residents. Men are almost twice as likely as women to have any pension income. Almost no respondents reported receiving any welfare support from government or non-government agencies.
The MYCL Provident Fund
MYTCL - Myanmar Copper operator has recognised the challenges of its employees who reach retirement age and has implemented a private retirement reserve called The Provident Fund, and is available to all permanent employees of the company. The fund allows for employees to dedicate 3% of their income into the fund, and Myanmar Yang Tse Copper Limited matches this endorsement in a holding account for the date of the individual’s retirement. Upon retirement the fund is released to the retiree, assisting in their retirement years ahead.
There are also additional benefits to the purpose of participating in this fund. At any time the employee may withdraw their provision for personal purposes such as a family crisis, unexpected healthcare bills, funerals, or even a more positive event such as a wedding. Each employee is permitted to withdraw their portion of the fund twice.
84% of the eligible Myanmar Copper workforce is currently engaged in the MYTCL Provident Fund. In addition to the years of savings, each employee is granted a severance gift from Myanmar Yang Tse Copper Limited ranging from 100-500 USD on the date of their retirement, depending on their years of service. For the majority of employees this is the equivalent of up to 2-months of salary.