Wednesday, September 08, 2010

When to retire?

There was a big demonstration - and strike - in Paris today. Still about the same issue: the legal age of retirement. The government wants to postpone it by 2 years (from 60 to 62), but the people and the unions are not too happy about that... As always, it is extremely difficult to know how many people were actually in the street (between 1,2 and 2,7 million depending on the sources!), but it is a real concern for sure, even for people who will retire in a very very long time, like the ones in this photo!


  1. The economy is difficult, and all these policy decisions hurt, whichever direction they go.

    Retirement? I am jealous of anyone who can. I don't think I will be able to retire.

  2. 60 is very young to retire. I am 59 and hope I can work for 10 more years. Retirement in Canada and Australia is 65 and I think that is still young. It must hurt the French economy.

  3. In the tides of economic recession, we have to work two extra years being under-paid???

    What the fuss!

  4. @ Eric & Flore

    I left messages for you in the comment box from yesterday.


  5. I have to agree that 60 is a very young age to retire unless you're in a physically demanding business.

    A couple years, isn't so bad. Compromise with some additional vacation weeks.

  6. I thought you might do something about the demonstrations. I understand that they probably think it's just the first step, but it's still hard for me to sympathize with people who might have to work until they're 62 (oh no!), because I'll be lucky if I can ever afford to retire! My mother worked until she was 89—because she wanted to (and would still be working if it were possible).

  7. Sorry, Eric—forgot to say that I love your photo (and her placard)—and the fact that you got out there to bring this to us!

  8. Full retirement age in the US was 65 (although you can retire at 62 with a reduced pension amount). But a few years ago they began a sliding scale to move the full retirement age to 67. When you can retire now depends in which year you were born. People who were born in 1945 for example can retire at age 66. But the option for early retirement at 62 is still available, with a reduced amount.

  9. They don't want us to have a relaxed life. We have the same problem in Spain.



    [Barcelona Daily Photo]

  10. I think it is a vital problem all over Europe. Though I think women should be allowed to retire at an earlier age because we work more - also at home :)

  11. What happened to all the leisure time we were supposed to enjoy as mechanisation took over all the boring jobs.

    I was taken to the June demonstration as a little holiday treat by my friend in Paris .

  12. I have to admit, I find this amusing. As a person under 40, (for a few more weeks at least!), I am looking at a retirement age here in the States of at least 67, probably closer to 70 before I reach that age. I know it is a different mindset and a cultural difference as well, but if you are healthy and able to work, why wouldn't you want to still be a productive member of society? I will also add that I am not working outside the home right now, and haven't for 10 years as my husband and I decided that I would stay home with our children, but we worked for years before having children so that would be possible. I plan to work again when the kids have left home for college and life, and I have to say, I'm looking forward to that. I LOVE being home with my kids, don't get me wrong, but I miss being in the workforce too.

  13. Eric, good picture bur don't look too much at young ladies that young ;)
    I was sure you would post about this huge strike day in France, Eric. The question you're asking 'when to retire?' ? The later the best I wish to say if I can keep myself in shape and enjoy time off the best way possible.

    "@ Eric & Flore.
    I left messages for you in the comment box from yesterday."

    Me too Keats. Thank you.

  14. This is a great discussion. Just to be clear, my initial comment was not intended to criticize anyone. It was more a matter of acknowledging that my earlier working years were not exactly...well designed for retirement saving.

    Jaq, I, too, wonder what happened to the promise of more leisure time when technology was to make life better? How much time do I spend screwing around with my internet service when it screws up?!!

    Keep thinking, folks.

  15. Personally, I find it difficult to sympathise with this protest.

    These proposals simply reflect the fact that, thankfully, most people now live much longer than they did when the pension ages were first set.

    I think President Sarkozy is to be commended for tackling this financial time-bomb now rather than let it get much worse for future generations, which would include the two young protesters in the photo.

    Anyway, we are always being told that fifty is the new forty and sixty is the new fifty, so logically the new sixty should be seventy - which makes sixty-two look like a pretty good deal!

  16. @ Jeff "I, too, wonder what happened to the promise of more leisure time when technology was to make life better?"

    I couldn't agree more!

    Aren't technology meant to make life better and eaiser? Are we over-indulging ourselves in the world of Internet or is it a form of self-inflicted obsessive-compulsive disorder?

    I don't intend to criticize anyone. But being obliged to reply mails from my BlackBerry, sometimes, really gets on my nerve.

  17. Like Jeff said, this is a good discussion, and a pretty complicated subject.

    Even though here in the US, in my age bracket, you can't collect full retirement until 67, I do sympathize with the French because I think that it's about more than just the two-year difference. I think they see the writing on the wall so to speak. About 10 or so years ago, I could have retired on full pension at 62, but the age just kept creeping upwards. Like other people said here, a lot of us won't ever be able to afford retirement at all in the US.

    Also, work is not what it used to be 30, 20, even 10 years ago (wow, am I giving my age away!); Jaq and Jeff alluded to this as well. There are a very fortunate few, even in white-collar jobs, who are not doing the work of three people, receiving lousy benefits, and making a fraction of their boss' salary. At least that's the way it is here in the US, and I would imagine that that last point regarding salary is becoming more of an issue in Europe as well. I am thinking that perhaps this is part of what the French are railing against. Maybe you could shed some light on this Eric?

    Anything to do with the economy is such a charged issue right now. The worst part is it seems the people who are partially responsible for this mess are making as much money as ever, and not being held accountable. It's the "disgruntled underlings" who have to pay. Not to mention all the people out there who just wish they had a job from which to retire.

    On a more positive note, I commend you for taking on this topic, Eric. I enjoyed the lively discussion. Your black and white photo along with the subject matter are timeless.

  18. A demonstration in the streets of Paris? Surely you jest Eric!!!!

  19. Although I read your blog every day, I haven't commented since a very long time.
    But, on this complicated subject, there is something I'd like to say.
    Most of the French people don't know how "happy" they are, they have social protections other countries don't dare to dream about.
    I had the same discussion with American friends about the CPE (I think!), contract where you could be fired without excuses during the first 2 years of your job and my friend said he'd be lucky to have that kind of contract, he also told me that less than 20 % of the American have a work contract with some protection, I don't know if this figure is true.
    We have contracts, get unemployment money, then RSA, health care for free if you cannot afford to pay....
    That is great but also you are so easily and often considered old when over 49, either under performing or overpaid. You get nothing interesting to do in your firm and if you're fired you won't find another job easily.
    My husband is turning 60 this year and he would have loved to work until 62 and even more but he got fired in 2 weeks last Summer after 34 years in the same company, too old and too expensive!!!
    He'll get money that's sure! Lucky French! But he would so much prefer to get his job instead!!!

  20. It's 66 and 7 months for me if I want full benefits, and I will need full benefits to live. I will be lucky enough to have my house paid off by then, making it possible to survive on Social Security if I have to.

    I wonder, though, if we old folks keeping our jobs longer won't make it even tougher for the young people to find work. Maybe I'm just rationalizing my desire to retire someday ;).

    Marylene, you are correct about the absolute lack of any job protection here in the USA. Unless you belong to a union (and very few do these days), it is employment at will, which means they can fire you any time for any or no reason. Very scary.

  21. I m french.
    A graduate usually starts to work at about 24-25 years old plus have to work at least 40 years to have a full pension (25+40=65 years old).
    So to pospone the legal age of retirement from 60 to 62 will change nothing for my generation.
    And this reform is just the don t say lucky french but day instead lucky french babyboom generation ;)

  22. Great photo and not surprised it was young people you photographed, the older folks probably all struggled to get to work and were diligently toiling away? ;-)

    I would love to retire at 62, but unless you work for the government or have some great job that still has a solvent pension fund you will work until you drop here in the good old USA. The social security that is offered to someone in the US at 62 years of age will barely cover rent, and every once in a while it is nice to have some meat with your rice and beans. Oh, if you need medical care..tant pis, you will have to wait until age 65, and if you require medication regularly...too bad, it will come out of your food allowance. You will be buying cat food on sale at Walgreen's!! But what about that "stimulus plan??"....Silly, stimulus billions are for rich bankers and foreign financial firms with "interests" in America and the IMF!! America needs a lot more than HOPE when it comes to this subject, for we have least the French have SOMETHING that they are trying to change. Come on, 62 isn't that bad!!

  23. Same for me anonymous. I started working @ 25+ so I won't be able to retire before the age of 67 with the new law.

    In fact the main problem is more complicated than what it seems. First of all in France - more than anywhere else in the world I believe - it is very difficult to find a job after 45. So it just seems almost impossible to stay at work until 67!

    Second, the main problem is not really about people who started working late like me and French anonymous, but about those who started working @ 16 or 18 and who generally have tough jobs and a shorter life expectancy.

    Having said that there is no magic solution. The money has to come from somewhere. The French are totally against pension funds, therefore the young have to pay for the retired and since there are less and less young people at work, there is a real problem.

    No government so far has solved the problem and we already know that this new law will be obsolete pretty soon...

  24. I'm 60 & looking for a job but now I'm wondering if I'm being too optimistic that I'll find one...they must look at me & think why bother hiring her, she's so old. When/if I do find something, I'll need to work way beyond retirement age ...oh well!!!

  25. We have the same problem here, but there hasn't been any demonstrations yet. At the end of the day it will be down to the EU, as they seem to rule everything these days.

  26. Retirement? Once it was thought of as the right of every working American. Now it's a luxury for the rich.

  27. Amiable dispatch and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you on your information.

  28. Ahh black and white photography is my favourite,Eric.It always suggests poignant moments. Retiring should be our God given right but unfortunately Governments insist on telling us how to live and especially WHEN to stop.All the best, Therese