Baby-boom pensioners back at job

Pensioners head

When angry workers took to the streets of France two years ago to protest moves to increase the retirement age from 60 to 62, one pensioner had trouble sympathising with their cause.

Having fallen from nightclub manager at the peak of her career to eating at a soup kitchen, Francoise Peter wanted more than anything else to find another job.

I sat there in front of my television thinking: are we living in the same world? said Peter, who says her 1,000-euro monthly state pension is not enough to make ends meet. People in this country want to take it easy, to retire early and lead a quiet life. But there are no guarantees in life.

A surge in the number of pensioners heading back to work has come about despite a reluctance by President Francois Hollande's Socialist government to pursue new reforms after the fierce 2010 protests that greeted those by his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.

It also suggests that a system which has produced one of the lowest average retirement ages in the Western world -- 59.1 years compared to more than 64 in EU partner Sweden and 71.5 in Mexico -- is failing to provide many ageing French with the economic security they seek.

The phenomenon has wider consequences for the labour market, where 25 percent of youth are unemployed, and underlines the strains on a pension system whose deficit is seen nearly quadrupling to 114 billion euros by 2050.

Currently 500,000 pensioners are back in work -- three times the number in 2005 and a figure that is likely to expand as life expectancy stretches beyond 80 and a population of 16 million pensioners expands.

This is new for France, said Anne Sonnet, author of a report by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on pensions.

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