According to a study by INSEE, the employment rate of seniors has increased over the last decade, but remains very low beyond 60 years in comparison with our European neighbors. More than a reduction in unemployment, it is the reforms of the French pension system that brought the recovery of activity, says the institute.
If there is one category of French who has rolled up his sleeves in recent years, it is that of seniors. According to a study published by INSEE on Thursday, the overall employment rate of 50-64 year-olds rose by 8.2 points between 2007 and 2017, reaching 61.5%, a rise that is all the more important as overall employment declined in France, mainly due to the economic crisis and rising unemployment. Employment increased slightly more among senior women (+9.2 points) than men of the same age (+7.1 points).
French employment starts at age 60, in connection with our pension plans
However, not everything is uniform. While the employment rate of 55-59 is in the European average with around 70% of the workforce, the 60-64 age group is very much less employed than in the rest of the Union, with 29.2% compared to around 40% for Europeans. Senior men are particularly underemployed, according to a study by the Pension Guidance Council: 20 points lower than in the EU, compared to 5.7 points less for French women.
How to explain it? For INSEE, the increase in the employment rate of seniors “is primarily driven by [the] successive pension reforms and restrictions on access to early retirement schemes”: between 2007 and 2017, the rate 60-64 year olds increased by 13.5 percentage points, those aged 55-59 by 17 points, while those aged 50-54 remained stable (+0.2 points). It is therefore mainly sixty-year-olds who would have benefited from early retirement who have got their hands dirty, and very few in their fifties who have continued their activity or have returned to work. In the last fifteen years, the main pension reforms were brought by François Fillon in 2003, Xavier Bertrand in 2008 and Eric Woerth in 2010.
Outside retirement, we know that seniors are more at risk in professional terms and in certain sectors in difficulty, which is why the government is considering the creation of a long-term unemployment benefit . While unemployment remains lower among older people than in other age groups (6.4% compared with 9.2% nationally), their chances of finding a job are lower and the risk of long-term unemployment very present .
Fewer senior executives than 25-49 year olds
The Institute lists 41.7% of executives or intermediaries among 50-64 year olds, against 47.2% of 25-49 year olds. Despite the gains of experience and career progression, there are more executives among “young” than “old”. Figures illustrating the economic future of France, with an ever greater specialization in services over the years, and more diplomas among younger generations.
INSEE also draws a report on career developments: the share of managers and intermediate occupations has grown less in senior citizens than in the rest of French assets. Despite the experience and training provided to people at the end of their career, the socio-professional category tends to become fixed. Another explanation could be found in the professional choices – admittedly sometimes made – that seniors make: they work more and more part-time (20.6% of 50-64 year olds versus 16.2% of 25- 49 years). Because the more one advances in the age classes, more the part-time is widespread and cumulates with pre-retirement schemes.