“We will die before we take advantage of it”… These young people who no longer believe in it
Nicolas took a puff on his cigarette to muster up courage, then launched his retirement simulation on his cell phone. The verdict fell, fatal as expected. Under the new reforms, he will have to work until he is 67 to be eligible for a full pension. “At 67, where do you think I will be? Either in the cemetery or in the hospital, considering my lifestyle.”
At just 30 years old, the Parisian is part of this generation disillusioned with retirement, who no longer trust him. “By always delaying the starting age, we tell ourselves that we will not touch anything and therefore there is no point in contributing”, judged the banker, disappointed. A study by the Institut Montaigne*, published in January, also showed that 59% of those under 35 consider the current retirement age – 62 – too high, compared to the national average of 48%. Imagine what they thought of leaving at the age of 64…
Sick before retirement
A pessimism that Henri Sterdyniak, economist at the French Observatory of Economic Conditions (OFCE) and pensions specialist, ignores: “The average age in France is 85 years for women and 79 years for men. Even assuming leaving at 67, there is life and retirement behind it. This life expectancy has stagnated somewhat since 2015 – barring the Covid years when it fell – but is expected to continue to increase. According to INSEE estimates, babies born in 2022 have an average life expectancy of between 90 and 93 years depending on their sex.
Nearly a hundred years which seems inconceivable to Lucie, 29 pins on the clock. Even hidden behind his blond hair, his appearance barely hides a heavy family past. Count the mothers, aunts, and grandmothers who each died before the age of 60 from breast cancer, and the virtual reassurance for a young woman that crabs will come to visit her too, one day. “When I retire at 60, I can still hope to live until then. In a few years, we went from 60 to 64 years – maybe 67 if I wanted full rates – without understanding anything, without being able to say anything. But in my family, women who live to be 67 years old, it doesn’t exist. »
Alive yes, but under what circumstances?
Even imagining the dazzling medical progress, Lucie couldn’t regain hope: “Come on, I might still be alive, but under what circumstances? Even if he doesn’t finish me off, the cancer will be destructive. Had he never come, do you know a lot of them, elderly people who are in very good condition? The young blonde spoke soberly, worked as a caretaker in a nursing home in Chambery. “After 70 years, frankly it’s still complicated. After 75 years, you often no longer notice what is happening around you, you suffer your life. You have to tell young people, frankly this is not a dream. »
If Lucie’s observations have nothing to do with sociological studies, the official figures corroborate her pessimistic vision: according to 2019 data (updated April 2021) from INSEE, the average age in good health in France stands at 63.7 years for men and 64.6 for woman. Nicolas commented about them: “We’re going to be totally broke when we stop working, isn’t that great? In the INSEE report, we can read in particular that “life expectancy in good health is more important than life expectancy, because without quality of life, increasing longevity is not so attractive” . Here too, Henri Sterdyniak relativizes: “This does not mean that people are also no longer autonomous, or that their lives are worthless. And then, on average, a lot of people do well at 70 or 75 years old. »
Retired at 64… for now
Sébastien also doesn’t really believe in his future life as a pensioner. Here, however, there is no predisposition to cancer, just the tiredness of watching one’s social achievements at birth erode over the decades. In its 29 years of existence, Sébastien will undergo five pension reforms – 1993, 2003, 2008, 2010, 2014 – and perhaps a sixth soon this year: “It’s like unemployment. Always deprived of our rights, we wonder what’s the point of contributing, if we’re never entitled to any benefits? Retirement is the same. We constantly see early age being pushed back and we tell ourselves that we’re not going to touch it and that we’re being taxed for nothing. »
Seeing the reforms follow each other almost as quickly as Mbappé’s goals, real estate-employed Perpignan believes the story won’t end there: we reach retirement, departures will increase to 70, or even 75, given current trends. »
“When it’s our turn, there won’t be anyone left”
In his speeches, the fear of a historical blunder predominated. “We will contribute to the ball for the others, and when it is our turn there will be none left. Better to throw our money away now than participate in a system that will imbed us”, cowardly, disillusioned, Mehdi, 32, lives in Montpellier.
For the last time, Henri Sterdyniak tried to calm the defeatist impulses of youth: “Young people fear the pension system will not work again, but everything indicates that the system will survive and will be efficient for them too, at the moment there is no reason to believe that it will not.” Ditto says the system is dooming us: for the vast majority of people, there will be a long retirement, maybe even longer than for previous generations. »
Working in your sixties, impossible to imagine for some
Doing work as a senior seems utopian to Medhi: “I work in plumbing, can you see me working till 60? Have you ever seen a plumber in his 60’s? Not me. Your back will be refitted by a 65 year old physiotherapist? You have to stop that bullshit. This system is based on an illusion: even if we want it, working for 43 years is great fun, but it’s a passing wind. »
Optimistic speeches, Nicolas also pays little attention to them: “It’s very funny, but I’m waiting to believe it. Leaving at 67 is still crazy. » New cigarettes. One last one, he promised. “I stopped this year. In these conditions, you have to take good care of yourself.” Among young people, because they fail to have faith in the future, we try to make it as comfortable as possible.