This is one of the goals of the reform put forward by the government. In defending the new pension bill, various ministers stressed their desire to increase the employment rate of the elderly, which is particularly low in France compared to other age groups. In 2021, the employment rate of the elderly in France was 56%, according to the Direction de l’Animation de la Recherche, des Etudes et des Statistiques (Dares) report in a study published in January 2023, while for the age group 25- 49 years old.
France does not study well in the employment of pensioners in Europe
If only the 60-64 age group is studied, the employment rate even drops to 35.5%. Similarly, the Department of Research, Research, Evaluation and Statistics (DREES) notes that as you approach age 60, the risk of remaining largely unemployed increases. This is even more true for women. “As for the 1950 generation, this is 8% of women and 6% of men at age 55 compared to 12% of women and 9% of men at age 59,” highlights leadership in its report published in 2022. As for people aged 60-64, between 2 and 3% of this generation still face unemployment.
Thus, the employment rate declines markedly with age, and this seems to be a French feature. Indeed, employment rates are much higher in other European countries. In 2021, it was 4.5 points below the European Union average at 60.5%. Thus, in Sweden, the employment rate is much higher – 76.9%, the same in Germany, where it is 71.8%.
Retirement, forced or voluntary
How to explain it? For Dares, this decline would have been the result of a gradual retirement. “Up to age 55, the proportion of retirees is marginal, while at age 60, about one in six people are retired, and two out of three retire at age 63.”, notes the guide. In some companies, such as the public service, the issue of wages can tip the scales towards gradual retirement.
While at the end of a career the salary should be higher, “Employers may decide to lay off the oldest people in order to get the highest salary”, reports TF1info Nathalie Hané, president of the association Solidarités Nouvelles face au Chômage (SNC), which published a report on older people and employment. The application for dismissal can also come from employees who are simply tired of work and want to leave as soon as possible.
But the low level of employment can also be explained by age prejudice. It would be more difficult to manage the seniors or join the younger team. Older people will be even less adaptable, slower, less receptive to change. These prejudices would then play into the recruitment of older people. According to a 2022 Apec study, nearly 9 out of 10 senior executives believe their age puts them at a disadvantage when looking for work.
Using algorithms or artificial intelligence to mechanize hiring for less skilled jobs would be an aggravating circumstance. “It would be enough to program them differently, but in fact we observe that when the first selection of resumes is done mechanically, it directly excludes people over a certain age.”emphasizes Natalie Hane.
However, according to the Dares report, the employment share of older people is changing. Thus, the employment rate has been increasing since the 2000s, and this change was mechanically caused by various successive pension reforms. They lengthened deduction periods and then pushed back the statutory retirement age, causing companies to keep their oldest employees longer. “Whether legal age raised to 64 and we speed up change from quarter 41 to quarter 43mechanically, we will see an increase in the employment of older people under the age of 64.”therefore assures Natalie Hanet.
Similarly, in 2021, the 6.3% senior unemployment rate fell slightly from 6.8% in 2019. With this reform to be added to the new rules regarding unemployment insurance, the SNC is concerned, however, about low-skilled older people who are already struggling in the labor market and who will be looking for work longer. without the mandatory achievement of a minimum pension of 1200 euros, the promised full career.