January 25, 2005


France: Too Tilted Toward Youth?: Gerontologist Fran├žoise Forette on how older workers can stay productive and how France is falling behind in that regard (Gail Edmondson, 1/31/05, Business Week)

Q: How does France stack up in an international context?

A: The problem is the employment rate after 50 and after 60. Only 7% of French men are actively employed after 60, and only 4% of French women. That compares with 27% of U.S. males and 14% of U.S. women.

Take the age group of 55-64. Only 34% are employed in France, compared with 50% in Britain, and 67% in Sweden. It's a question of the will to integrate the aging population. Britain and Sweden have succeeded.

Q: For decades, European countries and companies have wielded early retirement as a handy tool to help industries restructure and ease unemployment by making way for younger workers. Won't a shift toward keeping older workers on the job exacerbate unemployment?

A: In France there was an illusion that if you fire elderly workers, you create jobs for younger people. It's not firing older people that creates jobs. The problem is to stimulate the economy overall to create more jobs.

[Former President Fran├žois] Mitterrand decreased the age of retirement in 1981, and he didn't create one job. The jobs [governments want to create with such policies] are not the same as those being vacated by older workers.

Shocking--you mean societies dominated by the elderly don't require older folks to work?

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 25, 2005 7:17 AM
Comments for this post are closed.