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Postpone retirement to 65?  We decipher this campaign proposal from Emmanuel Macron and Valérie Pécresse

It was one of the major reforms wanted by Emmanuel Macron, abandoned because of the Covid-19 pandemic. If he is re-elected, the candidate president has promised to push back the legal retirement age to 65, instead of 62 currently. If the contours of the proposal are relatively undefined, the latter should take over the bulk of the reform planned for 2019. In addition to increasing the retirement age, the candidate wishes to abolish the special schemes and introduce a minimum pension of 1,100 euros. If adopted, the transition to age 65 will take place “gradually” until 2032, said Richard Ferrand, President La République en Marche (LREM) of the National Assembly.

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The project, explosive, does not collect the approval of the French men and women: a survey by the Ipsos Institute for the Landoy think tank reports that 60% of them would like a legal age of departure “between 60 and 62 years old”. On the left, most candidates do not wish to reach the starting age of 62; some, like Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Fabien Roussel, even want to lower it to 60 years. There is only Valérie Pécresse to agree with the outgoing president. Eric Zemmour proposes to go to 64 years, a proposal initially defended in 2019 by Emmanuel Macron.

On what basis is this reform proposal based, what would be its effect on the employment rate of seniors? Franceinfo answers the questions that arise.

1How do Macron and Pécresse justify their proposal?

The first argument put forward by the supporters of Emmanuel Macron is financial. “It turns out that the pension system is a system that is unbalanced and loses money every year”, affirmed, on March 16, Olivier Véran, the Minister of Health. Pushing back the retirement age to 65 would save 7.7 billion euros per year by 2027 and 18 billion euros by 2032, according to an estimate by the Institut Montaigne, a liberal think tank. , reported by The echoes. One way, according to Richard Ferrand, of “work more” for “to produce more wealth in order to finance our social model, our education, our health system, our armies”.

To the financial argument is added, according to LREM and the Republicans, that of life expectancy. “We will live longer, we will have to work longer”, estimated Valérie Pécresse on RTL to defend her proposal. A justification similar to that of Nicolas Sarkozy, in 2010, when raising the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62 years.

2Is the financing of pensions in deficit?

The answer to this question depends on the temporality in which we place ourselves. The pension system experienced a deficit of nearly 18 billion euros in 2020, according to a report by the Pensions Orientation Council (COR), published in June 2021. As explained in an article by the Worldthis drop in revenue is mainly linked to the Covid-19 pandemic and “to the contraction of business activity”. The pension system should thus return to equilibrium by 2030, notes the COR in its report.

A conclusion that pushes Julie Landour, sociologist at PSL Paris-Dauphine University, to qualify the justification financial“ideological”. “The reforms of 2003 and 2010 [qui a repoussé l’âge légal de départ à 62 ans] focused precisely on funding issuesexplains the researcher to franceinfo. Pension spending should not exceed 14% of GDP now. We do not yet see the effects, because it is a visible process over the long term. So, despite “the gradual aging of the French population”, “the changes in the share of pension expenditure in GDP would remain on a controlled trajectory on the horizon of the projection, i.e. 2070”stresses the COR.

“We know that the system is viable, because the previous reforms provided for a reduction in the replacement rate [c’est-à-dire le pourcentage de votre dernier revenu que vous conserverez à la retraite]which will drop from the current 50% to 37%”, explains the researcher. In other words, the amount of individual pensions will decrease over the years as the number of retirees increases.

3Should we raise the retirement age as life expectancy increases?

This is one of the main arguments of those who defend retirement at 65. According to INSEE data, the life expectancy of women has increased from 84.3 years in 2008 to 85.4 years in 2021. For men, the increase has been a little greater, going from 77, 6 years in 2008 to 79.3 years in 2021. However, a form of stagnation has been observed since 2014.

In view of these data, it would therefore be logical to push back the retirement age, argue the supporters of retirement to 65 years. But others, like Jean-Luc Mélenchon, point to the figures behind the INSEE averages. An article by Releasebased on data collected by the institute, underlines “that a quarter of the poorest have already died at retirement age”. “Executives have a set of resources that allows them to live longer and healthier lives”confirms Julie Landour, who recalls that life expectancy “in good health” is of “63 years for men and 64 years for women”.

With the establishment “of a universal diet” and the abolition of special diets, so no Frenchman could leave before the age of 65? Not necessarily, if we are to believe the supporters of Emmanuel Macron, who promise to take into account the arduousness of the work. Olivier Véran thus assured “without ambiguity” only one “caregiver will not work until this age”.

In the current system, a device, the personal prevention account, allows you to leave up to two years earlier in the event of a difficult job. “But an ordinance dating from 2017 has largely revised the thresholds from which one can claim hard work, and certain criteria, such as heavy loads, have been removed.explains Julie Landour. This means that 40% of the workers previously concerned by these criteria no longer have the right to do so.

4Can retirement at age 65 improve the employment rate of seniors?

This was assured Emmanuel Macron, interviewed by France Bleu. “The more employers know that you are retiring at 62, the less they will hire you”, he explained to justify his measure. Turning 65 can “give a signal to companies” and “encourage them to hire over 55-65 year olds”Judge Monika Queisser, specialist in pensions at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In France, “the employment rate of seniors (55 years and over), although constantly increasing, remains low in comparison with other European countries, in particular among those over 60”, explains a note from the Ministry of the Economy. At the end of 2019, the employment rate of 60-64 year olds was 34% in France, compared to 63% in Germany and 47% in the euro zone. One of the explanatory factors for these figures is the lack of measures taken to integrate seniors into the labor market.

“Ultimately, the question is not so much the starting age as how we allow people to age as well as possible in the workplace”, believes Julie Landour. The researcher points the finger at other European countries, in particular “Sweden”who have implemented “progressive retirement schemes with part-time use”. The question “senior training” is also important, notes Monika Queisser, citing the example of Germany, which frequently accompanies people at the end of their careers towards more suitable positions.

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