This is an idea often mentioned: the savings of the French must be used for the energy transition. But, for André Masson, director of studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, it is impossible to achieve this without taking into account a key characteristic of household assets: its aging. In his book Chronicle of an inheritance tax in perdition. Why and how to save it (PUF, 448 pages, 25 euros), he suggests overcoming the unpopularity of inheritance rights by using them as an incentive to invest in the long term.
Is it complicated to direct savings towards the energy transition?
Faced with ecological but also digital challenges, France needs long and risky investments. Massively. But the injunctions of Bercy to encourage households to invest in the long term are doomed to failure: the youngest do not have the means to do so (their savings are used first to acquire their housing) and the elderly, who hold the bulk of the savings “hoard”, do not want it. Think of the “three-sixty” rule: people over 60 own 60% of financial wealth and 60% of non-financial wealth.
However, the savings of the oldest are mainly directed towards non-risky investments. Admittedly, this short-term savings is partly transformed by banks and insurers into long-term investments, but this intermediation is not up to par, and the share of household savings financing innovative companies remains low. The challenge is therefore to find how to direct the savings of wealthy seniors towards investments for the future. It’s complex.
Can we encourage seniors to take more risks?
Savings by seniors are above all precautionary savings, with a view, in particular, to possible dependency, the financial cost of which is difficult to predict. That they prefer non-risky investments that can be mobilized at any time without worrying too much about profitability is rational, given the lengthening of lifespans. Especially since they are aware of their fragility: they cannot turn around in the event of a hard blow (work, borrow, etc.) and do not wish to find themselves dependent on their children.
If the risk of heavy dependency, the financial consequences of which are often dramatic for them and their family, were better covered, as is the risk of illness in particular, those over 60 would save less as a precaution. This could go through the creation of a mandatory dependency contribution based on the assets of retirees.
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