France passes wildly unpopular pension age increase to 64 – still well below other countries


A controversial pension reform was signed into law Saturday by French President Emmanuel Macron, effectively raising the country’s retirement age by two years—from 62 to 64, still notably lower than other Western countries—despite being wildly unpopular with the voting public.

French President Emmanuel Macron signed into law a controversial pension reform that has sparked protests in recent months.

AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

The reform bill, approved by the French Constitutional Council Friday, will gradually raise France’s legal age of retirement from 62 to 64 by 2030 after taking effect September 1.

French workers—who all receive a government pension—are now required to work for 43 years to receive a full pension of an average 1,400 euros per month after taxes.

Macron, who proposed raising the retirement age during his 2022 re-election campaign, argued reforms were necessary to cut pension costs because the pension system was nearing bankruptcy.

The French Pensions Advisory Council, which monitors the pension system, has projected a deficit over the next decade, but denied threats of bankruptcy.

Labor unions began fierce protests in January, arguing the pension system was not in danger and that “nothing justifies such a brutal reform.”

Chief Critic

François Ruffin, a member of the far-left La France Insoumise party in the National Assembly, criticized Macron and the French government for approving the law “like thieves in the night.”

Surprising Fact

A poll conducted prior to the French presidential election last year indicated 70% of voters were opposed to raising the retirement age, of which 50% said they were “very opposed,” according to Reuters. A separate poll conducted by Elabe found that 63% of respondents favored higher taxes for rich households as an effort to fund the pension system.

Key Background

Macron’s plan for pension reform has faced resistance from throughout the French government, including members of both the far-right National Rally party and the La France Insoumise party. Some lawmakers booed and called for Macron to resign after Macron invoked Article 49.3, which allowed the government to pass the bill without approval from the National Assembly, the lower house of the French parliament.

Macron’s government subsequently survived a no-confidence vote by the National Assembly, which would have required Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne and her cabinet to resign. Charles de Courson, author of the vote, said the government’s removal would have been “the only way of stopping the social and political crisis in this country.”

Macron initially called for pension reforms during his first term in 2019, which resulted in the country’s longest protest, though those plans were then delayed because of the pandemic. Thirty years earlier, millions of people protested a proposal by President Jacques Chirac, who eventually abandoned his effort.


Even with an increased retirement age, France’s requirement will still be relatively low compared to other Western democracies.

The minimum age to receive full retirement benefits in the U.S. is 66 for those born between 1943 and 1954 (with gradual increase for those born between 1955 and 1960), and 67 for anyone born after 1960. Italy’s retirement age is also 67. The U.K.’s retirement age is 66, compared to 65 in both Canada and Spain.

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