- France President Emmanuel Macron is facing backlash for his plan to raise the country’s retirement age.
- But Elon Musk thinks it’s the right decision.
- Supporters are pointing to dwindling pension funds, while those opposed say the problem is overstated.
Last week, over one million protestors took to the streets in protests across France, with demonstrations taking place in roughly 200 cities. The pushback was in response to President Macron’s plans to raise the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030 — meaning workers would have to wait an additional two years before accessing their full pensions.
Despite the pushback, Elon Musk voiced his support for the proposal.
“Macron is doing the difficult, but right thing,” Musk said in a tweet last Friday. “The retirement age of 62 was set when lifespans were much shorter. It is impossible for a small number of workers to support a massive number of retirees.”
50 years ago, France had roughly four workers per every retiree, but this has fallen to 1.7 today and is expected to decline further in the years ahead. The demographic shift can be attributed to a declining birth rate and older populations living longer than they used to. A falling worker to retiree ratio is making it more difficult for the French government to support the growing retiree base and keep the pension system financially stable.
“This will indeed be the year of pension reform, which aims to ensure the balance of our system for the years and decades to come,” President Macron said in late December.
If France ultimately does raise the retirement age, which Macron hopes to do by this summer, it wouldn’t be the first European country to do so. The official retirement age is 67 in Italy and Germany, 66 in the UK, and 65 in Spain. President Macron took steps towards a similar pension reform back in 2019, but the pandemic ultimately led him to set it aside.
Those opposed to the reform argue there are alternative cost-cutting measures that could be taken to support the pension system, and that Macron is overstating the severity of the problem. Some have also said the move would disproportionately hurt the poor, many of whom begin working earlier in life.
In the United States, the federal government is facing a retirement-funding predicament of its own. Last year, an annual federal report found the US government will not be able to pay full Social Security benefits beginning in 2035 unless action is taken — and it said Medicare funding could be in jeopardy as well.
In the US, workers can begin claiming Social Security benefits at age 62 but can’t claim their maximum benefits until age 67. Some Republicans have argued for raising the maximum benefit age to 70.