is the retirement age really higher among our neighbours?

Demonstration à  Rennes against pension reform, January 19, 2023 (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER / AFP)

Demonstration in Rennes against the pension reform, January 19, 2023 (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER / AFP)

This is one of the arguments put forward by defenders of pension reform.

62 years old in France for the moment, 65 years old in Belgium, 67 years old in Italy… the comparison of the legal retirement age with our neighbors is one of the arguments used to justify the shift from 62 to 64 years old of the retirement age, contained in the pension reform.

A comparison that has many limitations, however, as explained by the Center for European and International Social Security Liaisons (Cleiss). First of all because the conditions for early retirement are not the same in all countries.

In Greece, a departure at age 62 for 40 years of contribution

In France, except in special cases, it is impossible to retire before the legal age, set at 62 for the moment. For some of our neighbours, if the legal age is later than ours, the conditions for leaving before this age are more numerous.

Thus, Greece has two different ages for retirement. 67 years for employees who have only contributed for fifteen years, and 62 years for those who have contributed for at least 40 years. The country offers another exception to leave even earlier.

In Germany, an earlier departure possible, but with a lower pension

In Greece as in Germany, an employee can retire before the age of 62 if he agrees to receive a lower pension than that to which he could claim by leaving at the legal age. An early departure that France does not allow. In Germany, it is sufficient to have contributed at age 35 to leave before the legal age. The discount will apply at the rate of 3.6% per missing year. What nuance the legal age of 65 years and 10 months. The other side of the coin: a high number of poor pensioners.

To leave before the legal age in France, you can benefit from the long career scheme. In some of our neighbors, this device applies but in a much less restrictive way.

A more flexible long career system than in France

In Belgium, for example, the legal age of 65 will soon increase to 67. But an employee who started working at the age of 16 can assert his rights from the age of 60, and from the age of 63 for those who started at the age of 21. System also more advantageous in Luxembourg, where the legal age of 65 can be circumvented for employees who have contributed at 40, who can leave at 57.

In Italy, where the legal age is 67 (and 66 years and 7 months for women), Italians can retire at 62, provided their meter shows 41 years of contributions by the end of 2023 What relativize the legal age of 67 years.

In Portugal, the retirement age is flexible, it depends on the life expectancy at 65 years. When life expectancy declines, the legal retirement age is advanced. In 2022, life expectancy at age 65 has fallen, bringing the legal age from 66 years and 7 months to 66 years and 3 months.

An effective retirement age not so different from other countries

Another element to take into account, some countries differentiate the legal retirement age depending on whether you are a man or a woman, such as Austria, Switzerland or Croatia.

So many different systems that affect the effective retirement age. According to figures from OECD, the average retirement age is 64.5 years for men and women in France, while the European average is 64.3 years for men and 63.5 years for women. This puts into perspective the idea that people retire much earlier in France than in our neighbours.

By way of comparison, the average departure age in Italy is 62, 65.7 in Germany and 65 in Belgium. Among EU Member States, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Slovenia have the lowest retirement ages, at 62 for both men and women.

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