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French supportive of Macron’s mooted pension reform: survey

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The French public is generally supportive of the broad lines of pension reform sketched out by president Emmanuel Macron, according to a survey – although it is most divided over one of the core elements.

Although little is known about the envisaged reform besides the key concepts conveyed by Macron during his campaign and since his election, Perial, a French property company, found that the French were generally in favour of the proposed changes.

“One euro contributed gives rise to the same rights for all” was one of the main pensions catchphrases of Macron’s campaign, and Perial said 81% of respondents were in favour of this principle.

A clear majority, although smaller (66%), supported replacing the current system of multiple pension regimes with a single system with the same rules for calculating pensions applying to all, regardless of profession or sector.

France has a complex, highly fragmented pensions system. A large part of the population is covered by a compulsory regime for the private sector – the Agirc and Arcco schemes – but many occupational groups have their own schemes. In total, there are nearly 40 different, largely mandatory, regimes.

Respondents were strongly in favour of the principle that pension calculations should take into account whether someone worked in a physically demanding job – 80% said this went “in the right direction”.

Fewer were supportive of keeping the legal retirement age at 62 (64%).

Perial said respondents indicated they approved of measures that could make it easier to stay on top of their pensions, whether it be calculating pensions on the basis of accumulated contributions instead of the average salary, or no longer imposing a minimum contribution period.

Respondents were most divided over the idea of measures that would see a given generation’s life expectancy integrated into retirement calculations – 53% supported this. This measure is expected to be a core part of president Macron’s reforms.

Perial said the survey showed the majority (77%) of French people believed they would need to rely more on personal savings to obtain a satisfactory pension regardless of any reform of the mandatory system.

It was noteworthy, added Perial, that people were less alarmed about the situation than they were 15 years ago, when the survey was first carried out by Ifop, a French opinion poll institute.

According to the latest schedule indicated by the government, a draft reform is due to be presented by the end of this year, with the aim of finalising the necessary legal texts in the summer of 2019.

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