Retirement at 60 + Amazing Healthcare = Bankrupt State

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has recently stirred emotions by discussing delaying the minimum retirement age in France, and/or extending retirement contributions. Here’s a demand by one of France’s many workers unions:

La retraite à 60 ans et à taux plein, sans augmentation, ni allongement de la durée des cotisations.

Translation: Complete retirement at 60 years old, without raising contributions or extending the contribution period.

Seriously, people?

Let’s take the example of Japan, a country with one of the longest life expectancies on the planet, and a good social medicine program. You might think that these are good things, and indeed they are, but combined they produce disastrous results for Japan’s economy: with more and more people living longer lives in retirement, the state bears a bigger and bigger financial burden to care for them.

With French unions short-sightedly demanding a freeze on the retirement age, they are conscripting themselves to the same fate as Japan’s system – radical overhaul or complete bankruptcy. It would be much easier now to adopt sensible changes to France’s retirement system than wait for disaster.

Bastille Day


Flag of Vannes in Bastille Day Parade

It’s Bastille Day (14 July) here in France, and the town is abuzz with national spirit.

This morning, I was awakened by the sound of a band playing La Marseillaise, the French national anthem.  And yesterday, a parade went by on the street outside my window, featuring costumes traditional of French royalty and Breton customs; there was even a bagpipe band.