Pensions: a look back at thirty years of debate and reform

Population and Societies

574, February 2020

The French pension system has been reformed 4 times since 1993. With respect to what was anticipated in the early 1990s, the system has been rebalanced by acting equally upon an increase in contributions (already achieved), a progressive increase in the retirement age, and a gradual decline in the relative living standard of retirees. But the balance achieved remains sensitive to fluctuations in economic growth and the effective future trajectory of population ageing.

Whatever the approach to the pension debate, the fundamental issue is to find a balance between contribution rates on the one hand, and length of the retirement period and pension levels on the other. Didier Blanchet places this question in historical perspective. How has this balance shifted since the system was first set up? How has it been affected by the reforms implemented since the early 1990s? Answering these questions provides pointers for assessing and circumscribing the problems still to be resolved.

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