Futuribles Journal n° 396

Économie, emploi

Towards a Genuine Reform of Pensions: The Strategic State or a Policy of Small Steps?

Drawing on the findings of a vast study of social solidarity in the face of demographic change, carried out for Futuribles International, Hugues de Jouvenel, Cécile Désaunay and Alain Parant make a contribution here to the debate on the new pensions reform that is to feature in a bill to the French parliament in the autumn. They first remind us briefly of the current situation regarding the French pensions system and the worrying prospects that lie before it, given an ageing population and an economic, social and budget crisis. They also point out which policy levers are likely to be called on. Then, on the basis of this work, they offer an analysis of the pensions question, incorporating the –related– demographic, economic, social, health and institutional aspects.

They thus arrive at four possible scenarios: “France on the Slide” (solidarities threatened), which might be said to be a continuation of trends observed up to the present; “Headlong Flight” (local solidarities), which would arise out of an acute economic and social crisis and express itself in a sharp decline in French living conditions; “The Reign of Entrepreneurs” (selective solidarities), which would see the development of flexicurity and a vast overhaul of the welfare system; and, lastly, “New Social Contract” (reinvented solidarities), itself characterized by a massive overhaul of that system, but in the direction of distinctly greater solidarity. The authors go on to specify the lessons they draw from these different scenarios and to formulate a whole series of recommendations (including quantified measures) aimed at promoting the implementation of large-scale, long-term reforms of the French welfare system against a background of solidarity between and within generations.

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