“A high employment rate of seniors does not prevent a low youth unemployment rate”


Dince the announcement of the raising of the legal retirement age from 62 to 64, voices have been raised to underline the risk of substitution between employment for seniors and employment for young people. In other words, the later retirements of the 55-64 year olds would risk restricting the entry into the labor market of the under 25s.

A European perspective shows that the countries with the highest employment rates for seniors are also those with the lowest unemployment rates for young people aged 15 to 24, such as Germany, Norway or the -Down. On the other hand, countries characterized by high youth unemployment have the lowest employment rates for seniors (Greece, Italy, Romania).

In this panorama, France is less well positioned than the European Union (EU) average. Correlation not being causality, it is difficult to deduce that one has a positive impact on the other; it nevertheless appears that a high employment rate for seniors in no way prevents a low youth unemployment rate.

The 2010 reform which raised the retirement age from 60 to 62 in 2018 seems to support the hypothesis. It resulted in an increase in the employment of seniors and a marginal increase in unemployment.

Read also: Pension reform: the postponement of the legal age has increased unemployment among seniors, confirms Unédic

Of course, these changes are not without problems: according to a recent study by Unedic in March, the postponement of the legal age from 60 to 62 led to an increase of 100,000 more beneficiaries between 2010 and 2022. This figure should be put into perspective, with regard to the trends highlighted by the Department of Animation, Research, Studies and Statistics (Dares) of the Ministry of Labor, in its January 2023 issue on “Seniors in the labor market” , which points out that between 2014 and 2021, the employment rate of 60-64 year olds increased by 8.9 points and the proportion of inactive people fell by 9.6 points.

This does not guarantee that shifting the retirement age from 62 to 64 will have the same effects, but that the macroeconomic data does not suggest, ex post, a lasting effect of crowding out young people by older people.

Training and career guidance

The Pensions Orientation Council also considers that “the hypothesis of a substitution between employment of seniors and employment of young people is unlikely, due to the differences in human capital and the position occupied”.

Without venturing into the field theoretical links between education, economy and employment, we can argue that the apparent complementarity that emerges between employment of young people and employment of seniors reflects the level of education and the degree of effectiveness of “active” policies characterized by the expenditure incurred in the fight against unemployment.

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