"In France, changing the retirement age is a sacred cow" (2023)

After months of protests, violent clashes with police and a government accused of betraying the constitution, French President Emmanuel Macron made the decisionmore dramatic changesin the country's pension system in a generation.

Until recent reforms, French workers could legally retire at age 62, and while this does not guarantee a full pension, unless they have worked and contributed for a long time,Macron managed to raise that age to 64.

Historically, pensions have been a major political sticking point in France, and this current clash between government and workers is sounstable as always.

"Every country has its sacred cows," Nicholas Barr, a professor at the European Institute at the London School of Economics, told Al Jazeera. “In France, changing the retirement age is a holy cow.

“To give another example of sacred cows, in the United States it's the mere mention of any public involvement in health care when you hear instant cries of 'communism' and 'socialism.' In Britain, you bring the slightest hint of a private birth to the NHS and you are immediately met with cries of treason from all NHS authorities.

"And in France, the equivalent, the third rail, is the retirement age. And while you can acknowledge that the problem is a third hurdle, the idea that the retirement age can be kept at 62 is, in my opinion, simply unsustainable."

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France has one of the lowest eligibility ages for state pension among European countries and spends a significant amount to maintain the system.

It is based on the "pay it forward" hypothesis, where younger workers, especially in the public sector such as education, transport or energy, pay higher than average taxes and earn lower wages, but know they will be rewarded for leaving their jobs while they are still relatively young. and healthy, and live in corresponding comfort, as a new generation will provide them with the public purse to do so.

There are exceptions to this system, such as farmers and agricultural workers who are classified as self-employed and generally in the private sector on private farms. This means that they can only be entitled to a part of any state pension, despite its importance to French society.

The pension plan now faces financial challenges due to demographic changes (an aging population and a significant decline in the birth rate) that are straining the finances of the system.

France against its neighbors

So are French retirees doing better than those in other developed economies? Depends on who you ask and what size you use.

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While the relatively early retirement age may be enviable, in terms of gross monthly payments, France's average monthly state pension of around 1,200 euros ($1,327) is significantly lower than many of its neighbors, such as Spain, 2,500 euros (2,764 dollars). ), Belgium 3,000 euros. ($3,317) and Luxembourg €3,300 ($3,649). Two of them are also comparatively cheaper to live in, so compared to their literal neighbors, France's pension system doesn't look quite as rosy.

However, with a lower cost of living than Nordic countries like Denmark, Norway and Iceland, and higher pension payments than most Eastern European countries, Ireland and the UK, France fare better than to other parts of Europe. In fact, it is in seventh place.Balance syntax index, a weighted table compiled by Almond Financial, a financial planning company. In fact, French retirees receive a fairly healthy monthly allowance and can live cheaper than most other Europeans.

There is also a cultural dimension. Workers in France often see retirement as a true “third chapter” in their lives and not an afterthought, which is why they find it worth leaving the workforce at a relatively young age.

The system in numbers

Workers in the French public sector tend to receive higher pension benefits than those in the private sector and will retire on average at 62.9 years of age, according to data from the European Commission, until 2021.

The legal retirement age varies across Europe. In Germany, Italy and Denmark it is 67, compared to 66 in Spain (it rises to 67 in 2027). In the UK, the current retirement age is also 66, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has hinted that he may push to increase it to 68.

On average, residents of the European Union retire at age 63.8, with Luxembourg having the lowest average retirement age at 60.2.

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Then there is the amount that governments set aside for pensions.

According to the OECD, as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), France spends an average of 14.8% on pensions. In the EU, only Greece (15.7 percent) and Italy (15.4 percent) pay more. The European average is 11.6%, with Poland spending 10.6% of GDP on pensions, ahead of Germany with 10.3% and Romania with 8.1%, with Ireland coming last with the 4.6%. The figure for the UK is 5.5%, according to the London Budget Office.

"There is a strong cultural commitment to the provision of state pensions and also to quality of life, which the French value highly in terms of years worked, but also hours worked per week, days off per year, etc.", Rainbow Murray, a professor at Queen Mary University of London's School of International Affairs, told Al Jazeera. "Retirement, at an age and level of resources where it can be enjoyed, is considered a right."

Freedom, Equality... Reality

But insights into the French pension system come with caveats, says Paul Smith, associate professor of French history and politics at the University of Nottingham.

“The generosity of the French system is something of a myth. Try to be a farmer or an occupation that falls under the scheme for farmers, for example," he said, adding that it was true that someone entitled to a full pension in France would receive roughly double the level of support, for example, a pensioner in the UK receiving full pension.

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"But that is because the French state bears a greater burden in terms of contributions and payments."

But the number of people who qualify for the full pension is much smaller than you might think, Smith added. A basic pension of 1,200 euros ($1,327) a month is something of a pipe dream.

"The problem is that many French people actually live on a salary not much higher than the minimum wage: teachers, for example, earn around 1.5 times the minimum wage, so paying a supplementary pension plan is out." of discussion".

Why such a violent response?

Despite Macron and his ministers saying it will take "100 days of appeasement, unity, ambition and action" to heal the country, observers can't help but feel a red line has been crossed.

"Macron has severed relations with the unions and it does not seem likely that they will be willing to negotiate anytime soon," Smith said.

Barr added: “Pensions are a device that allows young people to plan their life course and should be implemented gradually with a long-term vision. Such sudden and drastic changes, especially for people nearing retirement, is a crazy plan."

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But, was this set of reforms a fundamental and necessary step to avoid the collapse of the system?

"A lot," Barr said. "Italy is a very sad example of ignoring the problem. Various governments kicked the can for over 30 years until bad things hit the fans, and then Mario Monti's government in 2011 had to reform itself very radical and very fast," he said. saying.


Did France raise the retirement age to 62? ›

Despite fierce protests, France has raised the retirement age from 62 to 64 : NPR. Despite fierce protests, France has raised the retirement age from 62 to 64 French President Emmanuel Macron has enacted controversial new reforms that raise the retirement age in France from 62 to 64.

What is France's new retirement age? ›

Macron's unpopular pension plan is enacted into French law French President Emmanuel Macron's unpopular plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 was enacted into law Saturday. The authorized changes will start being implemented in September.

What country has the youngest retirement age? ›

China has the world's youngest retirement age, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). For that distinction, it can partly thank a government policy dating back to the 1950s that lets women retire at 50 and men at 60.

What country has the highest retirement age? ›

Countries with the highest pension ages

Greece is among the countries with the highest retirement age in the world: 67 for men and women. Workers can claim full pension benefits only if they have contributed to the pension plan for at least 15 years (equivalent to 4,500 working days).

When did the retirement age change from 55 to 62? ›

The Social Security Amendments of 1956 lowered the minimum age for retirement benefits to 62 for women. The Social Security Amendments of 1961 extended the early retirement provision to men.

When did retirement age change from 62 to 65? ›

Full retirement age, also called "normal retirement age," was 65 for many years. In 1983, Congress passed a law to gradually raise the age because people are living longer and are generally healthier in older age. The law raised the full retirement age beginning with people born in 1938 or later.

What is the retirement age in USA? ›

The full retirement age is 66 if you were born from 1943 to 1954. The full retirement age increases gradually if you were born from 1955 to 1960 until it reaches 67. For anyone born 1960 or later, full retirement benefits are payable at age 67.

Which country gives the best pension? ›

Following Finland, the best countries for pensions are Poland and Sweden. Both boast an average retirement age of 65, below the average of 66, and Sweden has an impressive 100% rate of participation in funded pensions.

Is the retirement age changing and 2023? ›

There have been no recent changes to the retirement age and there will be none later in 2023, either. The Social Security Amendments of 1983 contained two provisions that impact when someone decides to retire, according to the SSA.

Is there no retirement age in USA? ›

Retirees are eligible to receive reduced Social Security payments at the age of 62. People 65 and over are eligible to receive Medicare benefits if they paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. The full retirement age is 67 for everyone born in 1960 or later.

Is there no retirement age in us? ›

Age 67: Americans born in 1960 or later must wait until age 67 to be eligible for their full Social Security benefits. This age is typically the target of reforms, with some options raising it to age 70 for future retirees.

How much pension do the French get? ›

While the relatively early age of retirement can be envied, in terms of gross monthly payments the average monthly state pension in France at about 1,200 euros ($1,327) is significantly lower than many of its neighbours like Spain's 2,500 euros ($2,764), Belgium's 3,000 euros ($3,317) and Luxembourg's 3,300 euros ($ ...

What is retirement age in Italy? ›

Current retirement ages (2020*)

Of the EU member states, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Slovenia have the lowest current retirement ages, with 62 years for both men and women.

What is the retirement age in Canada? ›

The standard age to start the pension is 65. However, you can start receiving it as early as age 60 or as late as age 70. If you start receiving your pension earlier, the monthly amount you'll receive will be smaller.

How do I get the $16728 Social Security bonus? ›

To acquire the full amount, you need to maximize your working life and begin collecting your check until age 70. Another way to maximize your check is by asking for a raise every two or three years. Moving companies throughout your career is another way to prove your worth, and generate more money.

What is the highest Social Security payment? ›

In 2023, the average senior on Social Security collects $1,827 a month. But you may be eligible for a lot more money than that. In fact, some seniors this year are looking at a monthly benefit of $4,555, which is the maximum Social Security will pay.

At what age do you get 100 of your Social Security benefits? ›

If you start receiving benefits at age 66 you get 100 percent of your monthly benefit. If you delay receiving retirement benefits until after your full retirement age, your monthly benefit continues to increase.

What is the average Social Security check at age 70? ›

Average Social Security Benefit at 70

As of December 2022, the most recent month for which data is available, the average Social Security benefit at age 70 was $1,963.48. This is up 11% from December 2021, when the average benefit for a 70-year-old was $1,768.94.

Is it better to take Social Security at 62 or 67? ›

You can start receiving your Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62. However, you are entitled to full benefits when you reach your full retirement age. If you delay taking your benefits from your full retirement age up to age 70, your benefit amount will increase.

What is the average Social Security check at age 66? ›

At age 62: $2,572. At age 65: $3,279. At age 66: $3,506. At age 70: $4,555.

What age do you stop paying taxes on Social Security? ›

There is no age at which you no longer have to submit a tax return and most senior citizens do need to file taxes every year. However if Social Security is your only form of income then it is not taxable. In the case of a married couple who file jointly, this must be true of both spouses.

What is the retirement age in England? ›

When can I claim my State Pension? The State Pension age is currently 66 years old for both men and women but will start gradually increasing again from 6 May 2026.

How much do I need to retire at 70 in USA? ›

How Much Savings Needed To Retire at Age 70
Today's AgeDeposit AmountAnnual Payments
3 more rows

Which state has the best pension plan in USA? ›

Based on funded ratio, Wisconsin, Washington, and South Dakota have the best funded public pension plans in America. The worst funded plans are in Illinois, Kentucky, and New Jersey.

How much is the French pension compared to the US Social Security? ›

The average Social Security benefit paid to a new retiree in a given year is equal to about 39 percent of the average wage of workers in that year, according to OECD data. In France, pension benefits are equal to about 60 percent of the average workers' wages.

Where is the best place to retire in the world? ›

Countries Natixis ranked as secure retirement locations are mostly concentrated in Europe but also include New Zealand and Australia. The top three countries in the rankings are Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, all of which have life expectancies of 83 years, compared to 77 in the U.S. and the world average of 72.

What big changes can seniors on Social Security expect in 2023? ›

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 8.7 percent in 2023. Read more about the Social Security Cost-of-Living adjustment for 2023. The maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $160,200.

What is the 5 year rule for Social Security? ›

You must have worked and paid Social Security taxes in five of the last 10 years. If you also get a pension from a job where you didn't pay Social Security taxes (e.g., a civil service or teacher's pension), your Social Security benefit might be reduced.

How much will Social Security go up in 2023 for seniors? ›

Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments will increase by 8.7% in 2023. This is the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) required by law. The increase will begin with benefits that Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2023.

How many Americans retire with no money? ›

About 27% of people who are 59 or older have no retirement savings, according to a new survey from financial services firm Credit Karma.

How much is the average pension in the US? ›

Average Monthly Retirement Income

According to data from the BLS, average incomes in 2021 after taxes were as follows for older households: 65-74 years: $59,872 per year or $4,989 per month. 75 and older: $43,217 per year or $3,601 per month.

What percent of white Americans don t have enough money to retire? ›

The situation is so dire that some older African-Americans and Latinos have no sources of income for retirement —14 percent compared to 4 percent of whites, the survey found.

Does France have a mandatory retirement age? ›

Retiring at 62* (statutory age)

France's statutory minimum retirement age is 62 for those born on or after January 1st, 1955.

What changes are coming to Social Security in 2023? ›

Social Security recipients will get an 8.7% raise for 2023, compared with the 5.9% increase that beneficiaries received in 2022. Maximum earnings subject to the Social Security tax also went up, from $147,000 to $160,200.

What is the average income of a French citizen? ›

France Annual Household Income per Capita reached 25,371.923 USD in Dec 2022, compared with the previous value of 27,107.763 USD in Dec 2021. France Annual Household Income per Capita data is updated yearly, available from Dec 1957 to Dec 2022, with an averaged value of 12,106.589 USD.

Does France tax US pensions? ›

In laymen's terms, the U.S. and France agreed that social security income will be taxed based on its source, not where the resident lives: If you're a U.S. citizen with a U.S. retirement account (no matter where you live) that money is only taxable in the U.S.

What is the lowest pension in France? ›

To compensate for this, the French pension reform will raise the minimum pension to about €1,200 for single people. At present, the minimum pension is €961.08, putting it mid-table compared with other OECD countries. Incidentally, Germany is one of the few countries not to have a minimum pension.

What is the retirement age in Russia? ›

Retirement Age Men in Russia averaged 60.24 Years from 2004 until 2022, reaching an all time high of 61.50 Years in 2021 and a record low of 60.00 Years in 2005. This page provides - Russia Retirement Age Men - actual values, historical data, forecast, chart, statistics, economic calendar and news.

What is the retirement age in Japan? ›

Although the retirement age is 60 in Japan, many continue to work, commonly rehired by the same company as a contract worker. A survey of 1,100 people in Japan in their sixties, past the retirement age of 60, found that 66% were still working.

What is the full retirement age in Spain? ›

From the beginning of 2022, if you want to retire in Spain and claim a state pension, you need to be a little bit older than 65, that is, 66 years and 2 months to be exact!

Is it better to retire in Canada or USA? ›

American and Canadian governments provide many of the same types of services who have reached the age of retirement. However, Canadian retirees have fewer worries than their American counterparts, thanks to a more generous retirement system.

What country has lowest retirement age? ›

Countries with the lowest pension ages

Only four countries have a state retirement age below 60 years old. Sri Lanka has one of the lowest pension ages in the world, with workers able to clock off at 55. Indonesia and Nepal follow closely behind, with retirement ages of 58.

What is the healthiest age to retire? ›

67-70 – During this age range, your Social Security benefit, if you haven't already taken it, will increase by 8% for each year you delay taking it until you turn 70.

Is retirement age in France to 67? ›

French workers can receive a state pension from the age of 62, but it will be less if that person has not made the required number of contributions. Aged 67, they are entitled to the full state pension regardless of their contributions.

Who changed the full retirement age? ›

But Congress changed that as part of its 1983 overhaul of the entitlement program. Lawmakers gradually increased the full retirement age – the first to be affected were people who turned 65 in 2003. Americans born in 1960 or later must wait until they turn 67 to collect their full benefits.

What is the forced retirement age in Europe? ›

Current retirement ages (2020*)

Excluding Turkey, the minimum current retirement age across Europe is 62 years for men and 60 years for women. The current retirement age is 65 years or over in most European countries where OECD data is available.

What is retirement age in USA 2023? ›

Increase the normal retirement age (NRA) 3 months per year starting for those age 62 in 2023 until the NRA reaches 70 in 2034.

Can you be forced to retire at 70? ›

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was amended in 1978 to prohibit mandatory retirement before age 70 in most occupations.

How much is a full pension in France? ›

The ceiling not to be exceeded is re-evaluated every year. In 2022, this ceiling is set at 11,001.44 euros per year for a single person (916.78 euros per month) and 17,079.77 euros per year (1,423.31 euros per month) for a couple.

What is the average Social Security check at age 62? ›

Average Social Security retirement benefits in 2023

Average payments for all retirees enrolled in the Social Security program increased to approximately $1,827, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, if you retire in 2023 at age 62, your maximum benefit would be much lower, $2,572.

Which country has the best retirement system? ›

The Netherlands, Denmark, and Israel have the best pension systems. The U.S. ranks far from the top. Common challenges pension systems around the world need to address include increasing the average retirement age due to rising life expectancy, encouraging more savings, and limiting access to funds before retirement.

Why is the French pension age so low? ›

At the time, the retirement age for a full pension was 65 years. It was not until François Mitterrand, a socialist president, swept to power in 1981 on a promise to enhance workers' rights that France lowered its pension age to 60.

What is the retirement age in China? ›

Retirement age by country and region
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What is the retirement age in Germany? ›

Retirement age by country
Germany65 (and 7 months)In Germany the retirement age is to be increased gradually and reach 67 years by 2029. See also: Pensions in Germany.
Hungary65Women with 40 years of insurance can retire at any age.
36 more rows


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