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Economic crisis: “We must resist the temptation of early retirement”, insists the OECD – Economy


We focused a lot on youth employment since the start of the crisis. Have we forgotten the seniors?

We have rightly spoken of young people because they are the first victims of the crisis: they are the last to arrive and the least well protected, on fixed-term contracts or in temporary employment. It was the easiest adjustment variable. Seniors who are often on permanent contracts were able to benefit from partial activity. The employment of seniors has more or less held, in France as elsewhere. The covid crisis has not changed the situation, the employment of seniors is increasing, if only because of demographic aging and the increase in the retirement age.

It’s the easy short-term solution to kick the expensive ones away

We still see a tendency in the Employment Protection Plans (PSE) to favor the departures of those close to retirement?

It is an age group that will be exposed in the restructuring phase during the recovery and which risks paying for the rest of the crisis. It is the vulnerability of seniors, they are less exposed to job loss, but if that happens, it is very difficult to find one … It is the typical risk of this age group to be between employment and retirement, not very well protected.

In the past, we have resorted to all forms of early retirement with public funds, but it is the easy short-term solution to remove those who are expensive. The social partners must resist this temptation. Early retirement is not a good solution either at the individual level or at the macroeconomic level.

Some sectors can become distressed without the seniors. In health and personal services, we have been forced to recall retired people… We need people with experience in terms of skills transfer, especially in this period when the transmission phase has been interrupted with the discontinuation of internships, remote work, etc.

France is still rather at the bottom of the European scale for the employment of seniors, while at the macroeconomic level, the employment rate is a good recipe for increasing growth.

What impact will the crisis leave on seniors?

For ten years now, we have been talking about seniors due to demographic change. These are macroeconomic questions, but also more down to earth human resources, to make different generations work together in the company.

What will remain most of the covid is to have learned that we can work remotely with more technologies. The crisis will accelerate certain trends, robotization and automation to reduce physical contact. Seniors can be exposed to accelerating technological change, which can affect certain groups who are less comfortable.

* Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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