Cette page regroupe l'ensemble des publications de Futuribles sur cette thématique (Vigie, revue, bibliographie, études, etc.)
Michel Drancourt reviews the most recent book (New York: Norton & Co, 2003) by Fareed Zakaria, an editorial writer for Newsweek, in which he examines the future of freedom and democracy. Zakaria argues that democracy -as it is defined today by most Westerners (free elections, separation of powers and respect for individual liberties)- is in danger of making many wrong turnings. If we are not careful, he says, it could become "illiberal democracy", in other words it might no longer guarantee respect for the basic freedoms, even though this has always been one of its fundamental principles. He goes on to argue that this is why it is so important now to take stock of these problems and build defences against these illiberal tendencies, in particular by creating effective regulatory authorities.
The text reprinted here is an extract from a book by Yves Cannac published in 1983 (Le Juste Pouvoir, Paris: Jean-Claude Lattès) in which the writer offered his views of the efficiency of the French education system and its ability to respond to public expectations and to those of pupils and their parents. The article is now 20 years old, but the views expressed remain highly relevant, judging by the criticisms of the system in the media today by those currently involved in education. Let us hope that just as schools are about to engage in a full-scale self-examination (under the aegis of the committee chaired by Claude Thélot), the plea made here will be heard: that the school system should really serve the public.
In this article Alain Parant discusses the consequences of the heatwave in France during last summer and the way that the country in general reacted to it.
First he argues that this episode is, yet again, a striking example of the failure of the French public authorities to foresee problems and their inability to learn from the past; he then analyses - somewhat more cautiously than other commentators so far - the unusually high death rate observed during the period and the factors and consequences that can be linked to it. In particular, Alain Parant reassesses the role likely to be played in future by informal support systems (especially by families) for the frail elderly: in his view, as family units become more complex and more women work outside the home these factors could well weaken these support networks even further and give rise to "long-term scenarios that are even worse than those rather wishfully foreseen so far".
With regard more specifically to the heatwave, Parant notes problems arising because responsibilities have been diluted between different levels of decisionmaking coupled with slow reactions to the crisis, but he also stresses the collective responsibility of the French population. Statistics aside (the share of the excess deaths in 2003 that can genuinely be attributed to the heatwave cannot be calculated reliably until next year), he argues that the solutions often suggested as a means of preventing a recurrence are frequently too short term; we need instead to take a more thorough look at the interactions between our activities (air conditioning/energy requirements, energy/pollution, pollution/heatwaves). For this reason he exhorts us not to treat this episode as just a blip, but calls for a general debate about the major trends in population and public health that are involved, and their wider impact on French society.
The debate about the future of education in France has been reignited this autumn with the nomination of a committee, chaired by Claude Thélot, charged with producing a "shared diagnosis" as to the state of the schools; this will then serve as the basis for a parliamentary bill to be put to the vote in early 2004. One of the major issues at the heart of the discussions with all those involved in the French education system is likely to be the question of how far the system should be decentralized.
Vincent Tournier makes a contribution here to this important debate, stressing the deficiencies of the French system and showing how far these could be remedied by decentralization.
Tournier sets out first to demonstrate how far the French education system has departed from its fundamental principles: that education should be free, open to all and effective. He emphasizes in particular that, far from reducing social inequalities, the system tends to reproduce them and, although most French people think the system achieves good results, this is far from true, as international comparisons show.
According to Vincent Tournier, this situation is the result of the system's excessive centralization which, in spite of the many reforms that have been approved, continues to impede any improvements. For this reason he recommends trying to decentralize. Admittedly decentralization may well lead to social, geographical and other inequalities, but these can be counteracted by close monitoring and compensatory measures; above all, he argues, decentralization will make it possible to satisfy better the concerns of parents and pupils and to adapt schools to meet local needs. From this standpoint, it could also be a means of increasing local participation and therefore, ultimately, would be more democratic.
In France the issue of administrative reform, more specifically of the civil service, crops up constantly and yet is also almost a taboo subject. Nevertheless, the Conseil d'État has just produced an important report about it, and Marcel Pochard presents here some of its key ideas.
French civil servants (numbering more than 5 million people) are subject to the common law of employment, but they enjoy a special status that was intended originally to protect them from what Jules Jeanneney called "the impulses, injustices and the ever-present risk of arbitrary action by those in power". As a result they constitute a particularly strong interest group (if not several).
While reminding us of the justifications for the special position of civil servants and the key characteristics, virtues and deficiencies of the public service, Marcel Pochard argues that a thorough overhaul is now indispensable.
He stresses that the civil service is facing three major issues: its performance, since the public sector cannot remain isolated from a largely inevitable general trend; better management of human resources, since this is recognized as having a key role in organizational efficiency; and reconciling the laws governing the public service with other branches of law, especially relating to the public budget and the free movement of state employees within the European Union.
In order to meet these challenges Pochard envisages five avenues of reform. The first concerns the laws relating to employees of the state and the need to review "their range and content" without questioning the need for special arrangements. The second proposes the introduction of contracts in civil service law. The third concerns the modes of management of civil servants, the fourth the modes of personnel organization and management, including the need to separate the grade from job content. The fifth and final one stresses the need to foster a better dialogue within and among civil service departments.
"The time has undoubtedly come for a complete overhaul of the French civil service", writes Marcel Pochard, and his analysis and proposals, which are both daring and relevant, will doubtless generate a lively debate. It remains to be seen whether these recommendations will be accepted and, above all, whether anything will come of them...
Pour Anne-Marie Guillemard, qui vient de sortir son livre L’Âge de l’emploi. Les sociétés à l’épreuve du vieillissement, la faiblesse du taux d’emploi (proportion d’actifs au travail) des personnes de plus de 45 ans n’est pas une fatalité. Dans le contexte de la réforme des retraites, Anne-Marie Guillemard souligne qu’on ne peut repenser la retraite sans questionner les mutations du travail et la réorganisation des temps sociaux, c’est-à-dire la distribution des temps ...
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In an analysis of the reasons for the low rate of economic growth in France, Jacques Bely emphasizes here how unhelpful it is to look for answers in contrasting the public and private sectors. In his view, an increase in the rate of economic growth will be achieved not by privatising certain public services but by improving their efficiency. Bely argues that the failure of public services to take account of this "efficiency factor" leads to a need for even greater productivity on the part of the market and competitive sector, thereby impairing the contribution of the latter to fostering growth. It is therefore essential for the French public services to acknowledge this efficiency dimension and take their inspiration from businesses in making organizational changes that will provide greater customer satisfaction at lower costs. This is one of the keys to reviving French economic growth, says Bely, and he offers some concrete proposals at the end of the article.
"Unlike other committees, we are not a group of experts whose role is to take part in government policy. Instead, we are a kind of independent and attentive laboratory of ideas applied to sustainable development and democracy. Because they consider that this independence, freedom of thought and action are being undermined, most of the active members of the CFDD feel that they have no choice but to resign." With these words, in a letter to the French Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, in May 2003 Jacques Testart explained why he was resigning as chairman of the CFDD, along with most of its active members.
In what way were this independence, freedom of thought and action being undermined? The answer is given in this damning document, which demonstrates how far the debates necessary for any meaningful policy of sustainable development are systematically made to vanish into thin air. Reading this account makes one realize that it is more difficult than ever in France to promote independent forums for democratic discussion of the key questions relating to the future, and yet "sustainable development makes no sense without the invention of new forms of democracy".
The French government's plan to reform pensions - although useful - is based ultimately on the assumption that the country will return rapidly (by 2010 or 2020) to full employment, if not of general labour shortage. The reform therefore relies partly on making people work longer (and therefore pay more contributions) in order to qualify for a full pension, and partly on a sharp fall in the costs arising from unemployment, so that the money thereby released could be used to finance pensions.
All of this is based on a highly interventionist scenario developed by a special advisory council on pensions which reported in December 2001 at the end of three years of exceptional economic growth and job creation.
Unfortunately, as we foresaw at Futuribles, the economic growth fizzled out, unemployment rose again and underemployment became widespread (though not unavoidable), which seriously compromises a reform plan that threatens simply to reduce the standard of living of pensioners and widen the gap between rich and poor.
France, like all the other European countries, is facing a rapidly ageing population: the proportion of people aged 60 or over will rise from about one fifth today to around one third by 2050. This ageing trend will be steep - the 1946 cohort is 30 % larger than that of 1945 - and its consequences are serious.
We have known this for a long time, as Alain Parant reminds us, mentioning in particular the pioneer work in France of the commission to study the problems of ageing (the "Laroque Commission") of 1962 and the working group on the "Outlook for the elderly" as part of the VIIIth Plan on Growing Old in the Future (Vieillir demain, the Lion Report) of 1980. These two reports, to mention only those, clearly foresaw the issues at stake and argued courageously in favour of fundamental reforms.
Unfortunately, as a result of collective rejection, shilly-shallying and tensions, the measures required were not adopted. Admittedly some reforms were made by prime minister Balladur in 1993. And now, the government of M. Raffarin, its back to the wall, is proposing another reform, which is undoubtedly heading in the right direction but is based on two overly optimistic assumptions: first, that morbidity and mortality rates will continue generally to decline; secondly, that there will be a rapid return to full employment.
Alain Parant challenges the validity of these two assumptions and argues that the current reform - while certainly necessary - is not feasible in its present form. A sequel is inevitable.
A reform of the public service is one of the major challenges facing France at the beginning of the 21st century if the country is to rid itself of its excessive bureaucracy, centralism and corporatism.
Bernard Brunhes examines what has been done in other European countries, in particular Britain and Sweden where effective reforms have been launched, and identifies several factors needed for success. He argues that these countries started from a simple idea: "a public service is a service to the public"; this focuses on the relationship with the consumer-citizen and client rather than with the user of public services. In the light of the successful experiences abroad, he says, there needs to be a change of approach in France, with above all an emphasis on devolution and decentralization. Today, as the process of providing services becomes increasingly complex, decisions must be taken as close as possible to the point of delivery.
In addition to these two main approaches, reforming a public service also involves communication. This means communicating via the hierarchy -the driving force for all change- but also via the unions and not in spite of them. As for direct communication, both internal and external, it must be able to transmit messages, register what people want and not err in favour of prudence out of fear of annoying civil servants.
Above and beyond these recommendations, the changes in the way political/administrative arrangements operate in the European Union calls for a new style of public governance. Among the reforms that would be desirable, Bernard Brunhes stresses the importance of increasing, on the one hand, the partnerships between public authorities and private entrepreneurs and, on the other, the interactions among the various actors concerned since he is sure that the public administration can no longer take decisions alone and must no longer govern alone. It is also important to draw up, collectively and democratically, new rules of the game and, finally, to foster the role of the voluntary sector in order to cope with the demands of the consumer society and sustainable development.
Throughout the industrialized world, reform of the system of public administration is on the agenda: in both Australia and New Zealand, in both the United States and Canada, in both Britain and Sweden. In all these countries there are problems relating to the tasks assigned to the state, the efficiency of the state, of the extent and the results of its interventions. In a good number of the countries mentioned, thorough reforms are in fact under way. The example of the United Kingdom is especially interesting because the reforms have been a major element in the programmes of successive Prime Ministers: Margaret Thatcher, John Major and, since 1997, Tony Blair. Each of them in turn has helped to bring about radical administrative reforms over the course of the last 20 years or more.
This article concentrates mainly on analysing the reform of the public administration launched by the Blair government in 1998, in particular with regard to improving the process of drawing up and implementing public policies.
Tout le monde s'accorde aujourd'hui à reconnaître que la situation n'est pas fameuse en matière de retraites. Mais l'intervenant remarque dès l'abord que ceci n'est pas exclusivement lié à la démographie. Il y a certes eu une détérioration du rapport des 20-59 ans aux 60 ans et plus (d'un rapport de 3,3 pour 1 en 1950, on passe à 2,65 début 1970, pour atteindre presque 3 en 1980, et redescendre à ...
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It has been obvious for years -and studies over the last 40 years have indeed forecast- that France, just like the rest of Europe, would be faced with an ageing population which would in turn mean having to undertake a major reform of pensions. Such a reform has been part of the present French government's programme, but it remains to be seen what measures will be adopted and how effective they are.
One of the most often cited measures would be to increase the number of contribution-years needed in order to qualify for a full pension, as has already happened for employees in the private sector. However, Jacques Bichot argues here that the significance of this number differs depending on the particular state pension scheme (the basic old age pension, the supplementary pensions schemes, the arrangements for civil servants and other special categories), and that a straightforward adjustment, such as a shift from 37.5 to 40 contribution-years, would not be enough to achieve equality among them.
More seriously still, he shows that the system of contribution-years has many drawbacks, for example, the fact that they do not carry equal weight, depending on when they occur, and that the system is far too rigid, which can lead to the state and the social partners being obliged to default on commitments made years or decades earlier. He shows, too, that the pensions systems are arranged in such a way that the amount paid out is calculated according to rules that take no account of the resources available, which means that it is the resources that have to be adjusted and therefore the workforce suffers, unless the system is allowed to go into "partial bankruptcy", which threatens the legitimate rights of retired people.
The author consequently argues strongly in favour of a change to the rules governing the French pensions system. In particular, he would like a unified system with the same points for everyone and no actuarial bias, so that individuals would know precisely what their position was and could act accordingly; the system could then always be operated in line with current circumstances but without harming established rights.
Rather than putting an end to the present rigid arrangements with an uncertain future, the analyses and proposals made here by Jacques Bichot are motivated by a justified need both to restore equity with regard to pensions in France and to allow there to be constant and smooth adjustments in the face of turbulent and uncertain social and economic circumstances.
Traditionnellement, la contribution de la science à la politique (processus science / décision politique) peut être considérée comme un continuum qui commence par la prestation de conseils scientifiques et aboutit à la décision politique. Dans ce modèle, les scientifiques sont fortement impliqués dans la première étape (fournir des avis), tandis que leur influence et leur participation diminuent lorsqu'on arrive à la conception et à l'application des politiques. En même temps, l'impact d'autres facteurs, notamment d'ordre social ...
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Le vieillissement de la population française est inéluctable. Quel impact aura-t-il sur les dépenses publiques de santé ? Pour estimer cet impact, un premier scénario consiste à appliquer le profil de dépenses par âge, tel qu'on peut le constater aujourd'hui, à la pyramide des âges future. Selon ce scénario « mécanique », l'augmentation de la dépense remboursée, hors soins de long terme, serait de l'ordre de 0.9 point du PIB (produit intérieur brut) en 2020. Mais ce scénario ...
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Jean-François Rischard, luxembourgeois d'origine et vice-président pour l'Europe de la Banque mondiale, est venu le 5 février présenter son ouvrage "20 défis pour la planète, 20 ans pour y faire face", en précisant qu'il ne l'avait pas écrit en tant que représentant de son institution, mais comme un simple citoyen qui se fait du souci pour l'avenir. Il a introduit son exposé en faisant un état des lieux rapide des problèmes planétaires et en expliquant ...
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Like all the industrialized countries, the population of the United States is ageing significantly, with elderly people accounting for an increasing number and proportion of the total.
In contrast to continental Europe, where the state is meant to embody the common good and where in practice it has developed a major role as protector of the elderly and infirm, in the United States the common good is supposed to emerge from the free interplay of pressure groups which may hold more or less conflicting views and be more or less powerful. Consequently American pensioners defend their cause above all via lobby groups, the best known being the AARP.
In this article, Jean-Philippe Viriot-Durandal first discusses the special role of these lobby groups in the American democratic process, and then looks at how they have helped to shape the policies on old age in the United States. He describes the main pressure groups and shows how they operate with regard to both Congress and the executive branch.
However, the lobbies are not satisfied merely with defending a given cause. Still taking as his example the pressure groups for the elderly, the author shows how American policies are ultimately the result of compromises and short-term coalitions achieved after bitter negotiations.
Lorsque le Bureau de l'Assemblée nationale a saisi l'Office parlementaire d'évaluation des choix scientifiques et technologiques d'une étude sur les méthodes d'identification des personnes à partir de données biométriques et sur les techniques de mise en œuvre, cette question ne faisait pas en France l'objet d'un réel débat à la mesure des enjeux en présence. Certes, des mesures se préparaient et se négociaient aux niveaux européen et international, des études étaient engagées, ici ...
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La place du social dans la politique européenne a toujours été ambiguë. D'un côté, le besoin d'intégration des politiques sociales semble évident pour éviter les disparités importantes entre les pays, mais de l'autre, les pays membres accordent encore beaucoup d'importance à leur autonomie nationale. Ceci s'explique sans doute par la diversité des modèles de politiques sociales qui, selon le sociologue Gøsta Esping-Andersen, peuvent se regrouper en trois types : l'État providence démocrate-social, l'État providence ...
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Ce chapitre est extrait du Rapport Vigie 2016 de Futuribles International, qui propose un panorama structuré des connaissances et des incertitudes des experts que l'association a mobilisés pour explorer les évolutions des 15 à 35 prochaines années sur 11 thématiques.