Retirement at age 65: the two pitfalls of the reform proposed by Macron

Raising the full legal retirement age to 65 within ten years is a relevant, if not essential, measure. And the French are prepared for this on the condition of guaranteeing a form of equity. Above all, the economic integration of those over 50 needs to be strengthened. Otherwise, a smart and courageous reform will take the form of a disturbing measure, with the risk of slowing down this necessary dusting of the pension system.

The reform proposed by candidate Emmanuel Macron has three advantages. First of all, it is economically attractive. It should contribute about 10 billion euros a year to the state coffers, which corresponds more or less to the annual deficit projected by the pension guidance council. Our social finances are emerging from the Covid crisis with a sharp deficit and it is not desirable to increase the contributions of employees or the employer to fill this abysmal gap. Reducing net wages (i.e., immediate purchasing power) or increasing labor costs (i.e., degrading the competitiveness of firms) are bad ideas.

It should be added that, in addition to pensions, the financing needs of the dependency branch will increase significantly. We are talking about an amount of between 5 and 10 billion euros per year. Instead of leaving this new branch without money or more than poor health, it is therefore much more relevant to focus the effort on the pension branch.

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A “super-growth” to face an era of “super-spending”

Second, the president-candidate is right to highlight the work. We must remember that our highly developed social model cannot be financed without sustained growth. Even more: we are entering an era of “super public spending” (police, justice, army, education, health, autonomy, decarbonization …) which, if we want to avoid “super deficits”, requires a “super deficit”. -growth “.

Excluding Covid, our potential growth was around 1.5% per year. The ideal is double. This is only possible in two ways: either companies and the public sphere invest more to generate productivity gains, or the French work more collectively. Delaying the retirement age is part of this second proposal. Those who, on the other hand, propose advancing the average retirement age are irresponsible. Especially because it’s the same people who promise more new public spending!

Third, it is a simplification reform. The average retirement age at full rate is now close to 64, and the duration of the contribution is “automatically” extended under the effect of Touraine’s law. A brave but complex law. A retirement age of 65, a minimum pension of 1,100 euros for the full career: this is simple and effective.

Simple on paper, but complex to implement

Anyway, simple and effective on paper. Because there are actually two traps. The first concerns equity. Life expectancy is inversely proportional to the standard of living. François Hollande, when he was president, had wanted to introduce the notion of arduous to restore a form of social justice by retiring earlier those who made them harder. The idea was the right one but its implementation, in the French way, was a festival of bureaucratic complexities. Let’s have clear ideas to implement simple measures: for professions whose life expectancy at 65 tends to 0, the general rule should be relaxed.

The second hurdle is to integrate those over 60 into the labor market. It is true that the employment rate between the ages of 60-64 has gone from 13% to 33% in twenty years. But this improvement is not enough to make the reform seem disturbing for this age group. We must not hide it: it is a big problem. I came across a company again last week that described its employees over the age of 35 as seniors!

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The Minister of Labor, who is in charge of this reform, should impose a donation on companies: we promise not to increase pension contributions during the five-year period, but in return, hire people over the age of 55. The latter have also benefited from significant public funds for two years: society is therefore entitled to expect some kind of return. Never before had recruitment difficulties been so acute. We take this opportunity to diversify our recruitment!


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