Paris - Workers in France tend to retire earlier than people in many other European Union countries, according to data from the bloc, meaning it has a bigger pensions bill than most.

That, in a nutshell, is why President Emmanuel Macron is launching yet another bid to reform the country’s debt-ridden pension system based on making people work longer.

AFP takes a look at how the French system compares with other European countries:


- Legal retirement age differs -

In France, workers are legally allowed to retire at 62 -- although this does not guarantee a full pension if they have not worked and contributed for enough years.

Macron now wants to push that back to 64.

The legal retirement age in Germany, Italy and Denmark is 67, versus 66 in Spain (rising to 67 in 2027). In the United Kingdom, the current retirement age for a state pension is also 66.

But pensions systems differ radically from one country to another and people who started working at a very young age, or whose work is physically demanding, are often allowed to retire earlier.

A better point of comparison is the age at which people actually retire in practice.



- Real retirement age -

Workers in France retire on average at 62.3 years of age, according to data from the European Commission dating to 2019.

That is much earlier than Italy, where workers usually demand their pensions at 65.5 years, or in Germany (64.6), Portugal (64.3) and Spain (64.2).

On average, EU inhabitants retire at 63.8 years.

Workers in Luxembourg retire the earliest, at 60.2 years on average.


French PM Elisabeth Borne said the reforms were needed to prevent the system from collapsing. Photo: Bertrand Guay / AFP


- Size of pensions -

French pensioners receive on average 54.4 percent of their last pay slip, says the European Commission, which has predicted that this could drop to 39.6 percent in 2040 and to 34.7 percent by 2070.

The average EU pension amounts to 46.2 percent of the last salary, with Germans coming away with a mere 39.8 percent.

Pensioners in southern Europe suffer the smallest drop in income. In Spain, they rake in 77 percent of their former salary compared with 74 percent in Portugal and 66.9 percent in Italy.

Employment rates of 55-64 year olds in each EU country (in 2021)



- Massive pensions bill -

France commits on average 14.8 percent of its gross domestic product to pensions.

In the EU, only Greece (15.7 percent) and Italy (15.4 percent) shell out more. The European average is 11.6 percent.

Poland devotes 10.6 percent of its GDP to pensions, ahead of Germany on 10.3 percent and Romania on 8.1 percent, with Ireland coming last with 4.6 percent.


Protesters in Perpignan hold a banner that reads, 'let's raise salaries not the retirement age'. Photo: Raymond Roig / AFP

 "excerpt": "Why is France trying to reform its pension system and how does the retirement age of 62 compare with other European countries?",
 "creationDate": "2023-01-11",
 "permalink": "",
 "language": "en",
 "categories": "Economy|Europe's Workforce",
 "media": "Infographic",
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 "status": "publish",
 "authorId": "6",
 "author": "afp"