IAHSA aims to highlight a diversity of topics through our blog but, while we try to bring new topics, it is hard to set aside the on-going protests in France over the government’s proposal to increase the retirement age.  This morning,  the French Senate approved a bill that would raise France’s retirement age from 60 to 62.  This takes the administration’s proposal one step closer to becoming law.   President Sarkozy identified Pension reform as a key goal of his administration.   However, while the administration views reform as necessary, others believe Sarkozy’s proposals are unjust.  The ensuing debate has divided French politics, with the Sarkozy government confronting France’s powerful unions.  The unions have called for a general strike tomorrow, in which public service workers, teachers, energy companies, rail, transit and airline employees are expected to participate. This would be France’s fourth strike in a month.

Read about the basic facts of the French Pension system below, as reported by France 24.   What do you think of the ongoing debate?  Are you in France?  Tell  IAHSA about your experience.

Facts About the French Pension System:

When can you retire in France?

Anyone can draw a full pension in France at the age of 60 so long as they have paid social security contributions for at least 40.5 years. This is set to rise to 41 in 2012. At 65 anyone can retire on the full pension even if they have not worked the full 40.5 years. In some jobs, deemed especially wearing, it is possible to retire as young as 50.

How many pensioners?

According to the Labour Ministry, there are some 15.5 million pensioners in France, out of a population of some 65 million. This figure is set to rise to 18 million in 2030.

How generous are full pensions?

Public sector workers retire on 75 percent of their final six-month salary. Private sector workers get 50 percent of their earnings in the 25 best years, plus benefits from additional schemes.

How much do workers pay into the system?

Civil servants have 7.85 percent of their salary deducted each month for pensions contributions versus 10.65 percent for private sector workers.

How much does this cost the state?

According to the state Pensions Council, the annual pension deficit is forecast to reach 32 billion euros in 2010, then 80 billion in 2030.

Click here for more information (in French only).