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[SURVEY] - How do French people perceive Emmanuel Macron's pensions reform?

BLOG - 4 December 2019

By Institut Montaigne

Each month, Elabe Institute, a French polling organization, questions the French population for Institut Montaigne, the French newspaper Les Echos and Radio Classique. This month, we asked French people about their views on Emmanuel Macron’s pensions reform, in the context of probably massive social mobilizations that will affect France in the following days.

French people are conflicted on the current system’s effectiveness

55% of French people consider that, from a financial point of view, the current pension system cannot continue to operate in the coming years. 34% of them believe the opposite and 11% do not know. The belief that the system cannot continue to operate is predominant in most social categories except for the 18-24 age group (46%) and the working class (46%).

Politically, this issue polarizes the electoral groups of first round voters in the 2017 presidential election. On the one hand, more than two thirds (around 70%) of François Fillon (right-wing) and Emmanuel Macron voters consider that the current pension system is not financially sustainable. On the other hand, 55% of Benoît Hamon (left-wing) and 54% of Jean-Luc Mélenchon (far-left) voters consider that the current pension system can continue to operate financially in the coming years. Halfway, Marine Le Pen (far-right) voters are more divided: 49% consider that the current system cannot continue to work financially, 36% that it can continue to work financially and 15% do not know.
 

The older the French are, the more they consider that the active population will have to work longer

57% of French people believe that in the coming years active people will have to work longer, 34% that they will have to work the same length of time as today, 8% less than before, while 1% have no opinion.

French people’s opinion on this question is correlated with their age. The older they are, the more likely they are to consider that active people will have to work longer. This opinion is shared by 42% of the 18-24 age group, 53% of 25-49s, 58% of 50-64s and 70% of people aged 65 and over. 43% of 18-24s also believe that active people will have to work the same length of time as they already do today.

The same correlation exists within social categories: 47% of workers consider that they will have to work longer while 52% of employees, 55% of middle professions and 70% of managers and higher intellectual professions do.

The vast majority of François Fillon and Emmanuel Macron voters believe that working people will have to work longer, 80% and 67% respectively. A slight majority (55%) of Marine Le Pen voters share this point of view, while 48% of Benoît Hamon voters and 41% of Jean-Luc Mélenchon voters are rather divided and consider that working people will have to work longer, against 47% and 45% believing that working people will work the same length of time as they do today.
 

Almost two thirds of French people are in favour of creating a single points-based system

64% of French people are in favour of the creation of a single points-based system for public, private and self-employed employees (down 3 percentage points compared to the Elabe Institute study of April, 4th 2019 for Les Echos, Radio Classique and Institut Montaigne) and 35% are against it (up 2 percentage points).

More specifically, 22% are highly supportive (+5 points), 42% somewhat supportive (-8), 21% somewhat opposed (=) and 14% highly opposed (+2).

Apart from public sector employees who are "only" 45% (=) in favour of this reform, all other social categories in the population agree with the creation of a single points-based pension system. This support is particularly strong among retirees, standing at 72% (-3).

Politically, François Fillon and Emmanuel Macron voters are overwhelmingly in favour of the principle of a single points-based pension system, respectively 84% (-6) and 80% (-1). The other electoral groups are more divided: Benoît Hamon voters are 55% (-11) in favour, and 45% against, Jean-Luc Mélenchon voters are 50% (=) in favour and 49% against whereas Marine Le Pen voters are 46% (-9) in favour and 54% against.
 

The French are above all anxious about working longer

When asked about the downsides of the executive’s planned pensions reform, French people mentioned the following arguments:

  • In-work period will necessarily be longer: mentioned by 72% of respondents, of which 30% mentioned this downside first. These respondents mainly live in urban areas of 20,000 to 100,000 inhabitants (79%), are public sector employees (78%), Marine Le Pen voters (78%) and come from popular social groups (77%).
     
  • The amount of retirement pensions will decrease: mentioned by 70% of respondents, of which 28% mentioned it first. They are Marine Le Pen voters (81%), Benoît Hamon voters (79%) and public sector employees (75%).
     
  • Increasingly more use of private organizations to prepare for retirement will be necessary: mentioned by 46% of respondents, of which 15% mentioned it first, notably by Benoît Hamon voters (60%), people living in the Paris area (52%) and 50-64 year-olds (51%).
     
  • The retirement pension amount will only be known at the last moment: mentioned by 42% of respondents, of which 14% mentioned this downside first.
     
  • Special regimes will disappear: mentioned by 27% of respondents, of which 9% mentioned it first.

Only 4% of the French people believe that the planned reform has no downsides.
 

The argument of greater equality is becoming stronger

When asked about the benefits of the executive's planned pensions reform, the French mentioned the following ones:

  • The unification of pension systems will allow for greater equality: mentioned by 46% of respondents (+7 points compared to a study conducted in July 2019), of which 25% mentioned this advantage first, in particular by François Fillon (65%) and Emmanuel Macron (58%) voters.
     
  • Workers will be able to choose how long they want to work, with the introduction of a so-called "âge d’équilibre": mentioned by 36% of respondents (-10 points) of which 11% mentioned it first, and in particular François Fillon voters (47%).
     
  • The reform still maintains a system of solidarity-based pensions: mentioned by 32% of respondents (-4 points), of which 10% mentioned it first, and in particular Emmanuel Macron voters (47%) and François Fillon voters (39%).
     
  • The legal retirement age will remain unchanged at 62 years old: mentioned by 31% of respondents (-8 points) of which 14% mentioned it first, and in particular the 18-24s (44%) who mention this advantage the most.
     
  • The financial equilibrium of pensions will be preserved: mentioned by 30% of respondents (-4 points), of which 10% mentioned this advantage first, especially by Emmanuel Macron voters (47%), as well as 18-24s (38%) and people aged 65 and over (37%).
     
  • The pension system and the calculation of pensions will be easier to understand: mentioned by 26% of respondents (-3 points) of which 9% mentioned it first.

For 21% of French people (+1 point), and especially among Jean-Luc Mélenchon (35%) and Marine le Pen (34%) voters, as well as for employees (27%) and public sector employees (30%), this pension reform has no advantage.

 

 

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