21st March 2022
On the occasion of the next presidential election in France (April 10 and 24, 2022), ILC-France is sending candidates a list of recommendations on societal issues related to a longevity in health and in activity.
Fight against ageism, an emergency
The word ageism was coined by Robert Butler (founder of the ILC) in the late 1960s.
Ageism is a process of categorization and division of people by age, leading to prejudice and injustice. Ageism is present on a daily basis and recognized as a real societal problem with serious and profound consequences in various areas: abuse of weakness, difficulties in accessing care, non-representation of the elderly in decision-making bodies, age discrimination at work…
At the international level, the World Health Organization published a report on ageism in March 2021 which calls for the implementation of effective strategies to combat all forms of discrimination based on age and to change our conceptions, our feelings and actions with regard to age and in particular aging.
- Respect the rights of citizens regardless of their age
- Ensure the absence of discrimination in hiring and at work
- Guarantee access to care in all medical specialties
- Increase the representation of older people in all regulatory bodies
- Develop the training of professionals, an essential element in the prevention of mistreatment
- Improve the conditions of support and care for the elderly at home and in institutions
- Nihil de nobis sine nobis
Encourage the work of Seniors
The constant increase in longevity is a new venture for humanity and a privilege for our countries as long as the population remains healthy and active.
However, the negative image associated with the aging of the population is commonly shared. And yet, far from being a burden on the public resources, seniors actually have a positive impact on the economy and the society.
Numerous studies have amply demonstrated that both critical determinants to ensure successful aging are the absence of disabling chronic diseases and the maintenance of activity, including participation in the labor market.
The French population is ageing. 39% of the French population was aged over 50 in 2018, and this figure is expected to rise to 42% by 2035.
People over the age of 50 already accounted for almost 1 in 3 workers (30% of the working population) in 2017, and this figure could reach 33% by 2035.
In 2015, nearly 6 euros out of 10 spent in France were spent by households over 50.
The work done for free by those over 50, such as volunteering and helping dependent people, would represent 1.3% of GDP.
The years between the ages of 50 and 70 determine the future in terms of physical, psychological and cognitive state and represent a turning point for individuals. The longevity challenge is to maintain the social integration and active participation of this age group in our societies, which necessitates a more widely developed prevention policy.
The experience of people over 50 is essential and contributes to the prosperity of society as a whole. In France, as in other countries, their professional and financial participation is
crucial. Their economic power allows the development of services and new and innovative initiatives. In addition, the financial assistance they bring to younger populations guarantees fairness increasingly necessary. Finally, their involvement in the tutoring of young workers enables the transmission of professional skills, essential for the sustainability of companies.
The employment of seniors is still far from satisfactory in France. In the second quarter of 2021, only 55% of the 55-64 age group segment worked in France.
For France, the OECD notes “Despite a marked increase over the last ten years, the employment rate has remained more than 18 points below Germany, Denmark, Finland in 2019”.
These rates drop drastically to 33% among the 60-64 age group (12 points less than the European average) and to 7.5% among the 65-69 age group (DARES Activity of seniors 2021).
The economic contribution of seniors in France must be recognized and highlighted. In the coming years, additional measures could be taken to unlock the economic contribution of longevity in France, essential to the economic recovery after the COVID pandemic and ongoing international events.
Investing in health and recognizing its economic value
– Devote at least 6% of health budgets to prevention (Canada has already achieved this goal, but most countries are still far from it).
– Fight health inequalities: adapt health interventions according to the needs of the poorest groups and prioritize disadvantaged populations of all ages in health expenditure.
Support work in an ageing world by developing and promoting the policy of maintaining and returning to work for seniors
– Strengthen and increase existing systems (fixed term contract for seniors, skills employment path, professionalization contracts, free jobs, etc.)
– Fight against stereotypes which are contradicted by facts (seniors are too expensive, unfit for change, etc….) and fight against age discrimination, the most powerful discrimination in employment. With equal skills, should age discrimination be made an offense?
– Invest in training throughout life and promote the training of seniors through a proactive policy and improve existing systems (retraining , validation of acquired experience , use and increase of the personal training funds …)
– Promoting employment after retirement by strengthening some measures (bonus, multiple employment retirement, progressive retirement,.)
– Help with innovative retraining solutions (business creation, temporary work, time-sharing, …)
– Encourage employers to reduce the obstacles to hiring older people (legal retirement age, for example) but also help people to work longer by relaxing work conditions.
Widely disseminate information on the benefits of working for seniors
The economic benefit for society is widely demonstrated. In 2018, workers over the age of 50 provided nearly 3 in 10 euros (33%) of income in France, or around 12% of GDP. In the EU, an increase in the employment rate among the over 50s to the levels reached in Iceland could translate into an 11% increase in GDP, equivalent to 2,2 billion euros (ILC-UK , ILC-France, Sanofi 2021).
The individual benefit must be better known. All studies, regardless of the country or continent in which they are carried out, show that early retirement is a risk factor for mortality and that prolonged professional activity promotes an increase in healthy survival (HRS, Share, Elsa, ILC-France_INSERM, Tamioka Japan, Scottish Health survey…). Professional commitment, which allows integration into society, acts not only on health (reduction of chronic illnesses, depression linked to isolation, deterioration of cognitive functions, etc.) but also on the quality of life, sense of purpose and belonging.
These studies form a solid scientific basis for promoting effective prevention that will promote productive and healthy longevity.
Of course, these data do not hold true for strenuous or dangerous occupations associated with an increase in chronic diseases (French GAZEL cohort).
Size the opportunities represented by the growing purchasing power of seniors
- Support the healthcare sector by recognizing its economic value
- Support companies offering services to seniors
- Reduce barriers to consumption in isolated territories
Recognize and support unpaid work
- Support family caregivers and grandparents
- Encourage and facilitate volunteering at all ages
In conclusion, the individual and collective benefit of the work of seniors can only encourage the modification of the retirement age, an unbearable barrier for many of our fellow citizens, by adapting it of course, to the particular conditions of certain professions. The development of prevention represents an obligatory path on an individual and collective basis and whose usefulness is obvious.
The English and French versions are posted on the ILC-France website.
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16 October 2023
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16 and 17 October 2023