Does comparing the legal age with that of our European neighbors make sense?

With this pension reform, would France only join its European neighbors? This is one of the arguments put forward by Emmanuel Macron during his interview with TF1 and France 2 on Wednesday. The president relied on a graph of Parisian to underline that with the exception of Sweden, the other European countries retire between 65 and 67 years of age. This infographic shows the legal retirement age in ten countries. Does the comparison put forward by the Head of State make sense?

“The comparison is truncated insofar as in France there are currently two retirement ages: 62, the age from which you have the right to retire – except for exceptions such as long careers -, 67, the age when there is no longer a discount, even if you have not contributed enough quarters”, answers Bruno Palier, author of Reform pensions to the press of Sciences po.

“In Germany, there is no minimum age, but you cannot leave before you have contributed for 35 years and you must have contributed for 45 years to have a full pension”, explains the researcher, who recalls that the Germans retire on average at 65 and the French almost 63 years old.

A different average retirement age depending on the country

The legal age varies between countries, as Emmanuel Macron pointed out, but there are exceptions in several countries allowing you to leave before this age limit. In France, in 2021, approximately 20% of retirements had taken place before the legal age, due to departures for long careers or for recognition of disability. In addition, the conditions required to receive a full pension vary greatly between countries, making comparisons difficult.

Calculating the effective retirement age is also not easy, as the noted a working document of the Pensions Orientation Council in 2022. In some countries, retirees combine employment and retirement. If we take the average retirement age as a reference, in 2019, French women liquidated their retirement at 62.6 years against 64.4 years for German women. French men left a little earlier than women, at 62. Same phenomenon at work in Germany, where men liquidated their retirement four months before women.

The retirement age, on the other hand, does not always correspond: German men went into retirement seven months after having asked for it to be liquidated. French women left the labor market four months before claiming their pension. There are so many disparities in the data and calculations that complicate the exercise of comparison between countries, even on a European scale.

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