Ageing and Employment Policies

ISSN :
1990-1011 (online)
ISSN :
1990-102X (print)
DOI :
10.1787/19901011
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People today are living longer than ever before, while birth rates are dropping in the majority of OECD countries. Such demographics raise the question: are current public social expenditures adequate and sustainable? Older workers play a crucial role in the labour market. Now that legal retirement ages are rising, fewer older workers are retiring early, but at the same time those older workers who have lost their job after the age of 50 have tended to remain in long term unemployment.  What can countries do to help? How can they give older people better work incentives and opportunities? These reports offer analysis and assessment on what the best policies are for fostering employability, job mobility and labour demand at an older age.


Also available in: French
 
Ageing and Employment Policies: France 2014

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Ageing and Employment Policies: France 2014

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Author(s):
OECD
Publication Date :
11 June 2014
Pages :
180
ISBN :
9789264207523 (PDF) ; 9789264207516 (print)
DOI :
10.1787/9789264207523-en

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People today are living longer than ever before, while birth rates are dropping in the majority of OECD countries. In such demographics, public social expenditures require to be adequate and sustainable in the long term. Older workers play a crucial role in the labour market. Now that legal retirement ages are rising, older workers will work longer and employers will have to retain them. But those older workers who have lost their job have experienced long term-unemployment and low probabilities to return to work. What can countries do to help? How can they give older people better work incentives and opportunities? How can they promote age diversity in firms? This report offers analysis and assessment on what the best policies are for fostering employability, job mobility and labour demand at an older age in France.

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    Foreword

    In a context of rapid population ageing, giving older people better work incentives and choices is crucial for promoting economic growth and improving the sustainability of public social expenditures. The OECD Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Committee accordingly decided in 2011 to carry out a new review of policies to encourage greater labour market participation at an older age by fostering employability, job mobility and labour demand. That review builds upon previous work that the OECD has conducted in this area in the Ageing and Employment Policies series, as summarised in its major multi-country report, Live Longer, Work Longer, published in 2006.

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    Acronyms and abbreviations
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    Executive summary

    The employment rate for older people in France remains low, although it has increased over the last decade. During the crisis, many older workers lost their jobs and found themselves permanently unemployed. Unless the labour demand for older workers increases, there is a risk of greater end-of-career vulnerability. An overall strategy is needed to improve the handling of age issues in businesses in order to encourage employment through to retirement. The following courses of action are recommended.

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    Assessment and recommendations

    Between 2008 and 2011, only 55% of older workers moved directly from employment to retirement in France. The others experienced often-lengthy spells of unemployment at the end of their working life. Consequently, France ranks near the low end among OECD countries in terms of the effective labour force exit age. In 2012, it was estimated at 59.7 years for men and 60.0 years for women, compared with 64.2 years and 63.3 years respectively for the OECD as a whole.

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    The "live longer, work longer" challenge for France

    The French population is ageing steadily, even though fertility is higher than the average for most OECD countries. This chapter describes the magnitude of the demographic challenge. It then goes on to discuss the reforms pursued over the past decade to promote the employment of older workers and it offers a summary assessment of the extent to which France has followed the OECD recommendations from the 2005 report, Ageing and Employment Policies: France.

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    The labour market situation for older workers in France

    The labour market situation for older workers in France has improved significantly over the past decade. However, there has been an increase in unemployment among older workers, due largely to the crisis but also to elimination of the provision that exempted the older unemployed from looking for work. This chapter uses international comparisons to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the employment situation for older people in France. It offers a scoreboard with some 20 comparative indicators for older workers during the past decade.

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    Strengthening incentives to continue working in France

    An important area to be explored for explaining the lower employment rate among older workers is social protection. While there has been progress in recent years, generally speaking, the question of staying in employment or not still arises for too many older workers. Nearly half of older workers do not move directly from employment into retirement, but experience long spells of non-employment of various kinds. At the same time, there are more older workers who continue to pursue a paid activity, even occasionally, after they take their retirement, thus combining a pension and income from work. This chapter will focus on the main situations in which older out-of-work persons find themselves (retirement, disability, early retirement, unemployment, and social assistance)

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    Removing obstacles to the hiring and retention of older workers in France

    The success of reforms intended to stimulate employment for older workers will require an increase in the demand for their labour, without which they will find themselves unemployed. The reluctance of employers to hire or retain older workers reflects in part their negative perception of the adaptability and the productivity of older workers, with perhaps a touch of age discrimination. There are also other, more objective factors that employers mention as motivating their behaviour. These may include, for example, the cost of labour, which rises sharply with age, and strict employment protection rules. All these factors will have to be taken into account in order to encourage employers to offer more possibilities to older workers.

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    Improving the employability of older workers in France

    As workers advance in age, it is important to ensure that they can update their skills continuously, have ready access to the facilities offered by the public and private employment services, and enjoy better working conditions. This chapter assesses the French situation in these three fields and shows that greater efforts are needed to enhance the employability of older workers. It is crucial to do this in order to respond to rising unemployment among older workers, and the need to prolong their working life.

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