How Does the New French Retirement Age Stack Up Globally?

President Emmanuel Macron unilaterally changed the retirement age to 64 Thursday

President of France Emmanuel Macron speaks at the 2023 Munich Security Conference (MSC) on February 17, 2023 in Munich, Germany.

Johannes Simon / Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron used executive powers to raise the government’s minimum retirement age for national pension benefits Tuesday, amid protests inside and outside the chambers. 

Key Takeaways

  • The age for the French to receive government retirement benefits has raised to 64 from 62.
  • The average retirement age in the United States is 64.9 for men and 64.7 for women, though Americans can claim benefits at 62.
  • Indonesia holds the world’s oldest average retirement age at over 68 years old, while Sauids retire on average before their 60th birthday.

Thousands of workers went on strike in the days leading up to the decision, as Macron has continued to push for raising the retirement age from 62 to 64. 

France’s retirement age–even after being raised to 64–is lower than the typical age people can access government-sponsored retirement benefits in other economies. According to the IMF, the statutory requirement for retirement is most often 65 in Europe. 

The average age people retire varies widely globally, with OECD data indicating the average effective labor market exit for men is anywhere from 58.9 to 68.7 years old. Women's ages range from 51.1 to 69.2. The age retirees can receive government benefits is variable as well. 

France Has Lower-Than-Average Retirement Age

While workers in France fight to keep their current retirement age, workers in other countries may be considering how long they may have to stay at their jobs.

In the United States, workers can begin collecting Social Security retirement benefits at age 62, and your benefit amount increases if you delay collecting. According to government data, nearly 90% of Americans age 65 and older receive a Social Security benefit.

In Canada, early retirement is available as early as 60, while the normal retirement age is 65. In Israel, women can retire at 62 with a state pension, while men must wait until age 67. In Mexico, early retirement begins at 60, while full retirement requires waiting until age 65 to 68, depending on the retirement plan.

Next to France in Germany, early retirement begins at 63.7 years old for some, while the normal retirement age is 65.7. Across the English Channel, the normal retirement age in the United Kingdom is 66 years old.

Macron's Changes Are Unpopular

According to OECD data from 2020, early retirement in France begins between ages 55 and 62, and regular retirement starts from 63.5 to 64.5. France’s retirement age is a little better than average compared to workers worldwide and far from the worst.

Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron has been working to convenience parliament to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, as a part of a plan he says will make the French economy more competitive. 

Meanwhile, workers in critical industries such as trash collection have been on strike to stand against the change. Macron raised the age without lawmakers' support as well, with many protesting as the made the unilateral call.

In addition to raising the retirement age, the proposal from Macron would require workers to wait further for a full pension until age 67 if they have worked for fewer than 43 years.

Economic Forces May Require Change

In the U.S., the average planned retirement age is creeping upward, according to a Gallup poll. But in France, the opposite has been the case. Since the 1970s, the average retirement age in France has slowly declined, while other countries have increased their age for pension benefits.

French workers don’t want to let go of that trend, but economic realities may force the changes. 

Just as the Social Security system in the United States may find itself under pressure in the future due to an aging population and other demographic factors, the French system may find itself in a deficit in the next decade. The United States Social Security fund is projected to run out of cash in 2034, barring any changes.

Article Sources
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  1. AP. "Macron shuns parliament to raise French retirement age."

  2. IMF. "GETTING OLDER BUT NOT POORER."

  3. Social Security Administration. "Retirement Benefits 2023."

  4. Social Security Administration. "Fact Sheet."

  5. Gallup. "More in U.S. Retiring, or Planning to Retire, Later."

  6. AP. "Macron faces crucial test amid anger over his pension plan."

  7. Social Security Administration. "The 2022 Annual Report Of The Board Of Trustees Of The Federal Old-Age And Survivors Insurance And Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds."

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