As part of broader austerity measures, the French government is raising
the age of retirement from 60 to 62. The move has drawn sharp protest
from labor unions and the country's socialist party. There have also
been demonstrations. Though to American observers, many of whom face a retirement age of 66 or 67
, the heated reaction may seem a bit
comical, there are some serious arguments behind the objections.
- Seems Reasonable "I was unaware that the retirement age in France was that low," comments political science professor Steven Taylor
at Outside the Beltway. Still, he points out that "if workers were
expecting a specific number the reaction is not that surprising insofar
as they will see it simply as a reduction in promised benefits."
- Au Contraire French paper Le Monde runs a twelve-author op-ed
railing about the "violence of neoliberal capitalism" and the effect on "those who have already been broken by a long life of work." The
authors complain that the attempt to address the ailing economy with
policies aimed at shifting demographics is misguided. "The forced work
of seniors will replace youth employment in the absence of sufficient
job creation, and above all increasing the individual duration of work."
the Effects of Delayed Retirement The Economist's Free Exchange blog
says the European "belief that the number of jobs is fixed, so that if
you remove old people from the labour force, it makes way for younger
workers" is "persistent, but wrong." Increasing the number of workers
can, paradoxically, increase the demand for workers: "More workers
means more income, resulting in a greater demand for goods and services
... Indeed, an influx of women into the labour force didn't reduce male
employment or wages." That makes increasing the retirement age, "from a
fiscal perspective ... a no-brainer," lowering payouts and
"increas[ing] the tax base." On the other hand, though, older workers
are less productive and yet more expensive for firms to keep on.
people in the labour force longer may mean rethinking what retirement
means. Rather than a discrete and sudden exit retirement may become
more gradual. Phasing people out--perhaps by offering the option of
part-time work in the years leading up to retirement, may make sense.
That may be easier on people who work well into old-age, as it puts
them under less physical strain and it eases the mental transition into
retirement. More part-time work also allows firms to pay these workers
less than their full salary.
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