FRANCE is the most generous country in the world with its pensioners – with middle-range OAPs having a monthly income of €1,590 while the average working wage is €1,735.
Economist Henri Sterdyniak, of the Observatoire Français des Conjonctures Economiques, said French OAPs were among the privileged classes in the country, with young people being much less well treated.
In general, OAPs have a lifestyle equivalent to that of the rest of the population, with just a 9% gap to those still working. In the UK, the gap is 20% and it is the same in Sweden and Belgium – although it is 28% in Denmark.
The generous pensions are the result of improvements that date back to 1972. When the Sécurité Sociale was set up in 1945 it paid 45% of salary at 65 years old – by 1972 this had risen to 50% and then “complementary” top-up schemes started to be added that took the level to 70% by 1975.
However, cost-cutting reforms from 1993, which started indexing pensions on prices rather than wages, saw pensions start to fall for older people on the original scheme; although younger workers still got the benefit of increased payments into top-up schemes.
That has left 10% of OAPs on the poverty line, earning the basic pension of €787 – as against 19.6% of young people on the poverty line who may receive the RSA benefit of €483.