Futuribles Journal n° 275

Économie, emploi - Population

L'emploi des salariés âgés. Perspectives et comparaisons internationales


All the countries of Europe are now faced with an ageing population, and this trend will only intensify in future as the post-war 'baby boom' generation reaches retirement. France is no exception, and if social legislation does not change, the growing imbalance between those in work and the dependent population is likely to aggravate two latent problems: of financing the baby boomers' pensions, and of filling job vacancies -perhaps even labour shortages- as a result of the possible reduction in the economically active population.
François Michaux is interested in the latter problem. After recalling that one of the first measures to take in order to prevent a worsening of the ratio of dependent to working population is to raise the retirement age (currently 60 for men and women in France), he stresses the importance of encouraging the employment of older people. This is all the more necessary, he argues, because the heavy reliance on early retirement schemes as a way of restructuring the workforce and creating opportunities for younger people has tended to accustom the French to the exact opposite.
Michaux looks at the solutions adopted in other countries faced with similar problems (e.g. Japan, the United States, Spain, Finland), and suggests a series of measures that might be used to encourage firms to keep older people in work or even to hire them. As regards public policies, he thinks the Anglo-Saxon model is the best option for the future: establishing mechanisms that encourage individuals to mix work and retirement, combined with a reduction in the costs to employers. From the firms' angle, he stresses the benefits of employing older workers, in terms both of economics and of image: the value of experience in the case of certain categories of staff, savings on the costs of training, reliability, lower wage demands from employees, as well as a less open-ended commitment on the part of the employers. Lastly, Michaux points out that employing older people may confer a competitive advantage in future, in particular as the growing elderly market is targeted.

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