Working Conditions: How Are Older Workers Protected in France?

By Pailhé, Ariane | Population, January-April 2005 | Go to article overview

Working Conditions: How Are Older Workers Protected in France?


Pailhé, Ariane, Population


Since the 1980s, changes in the organization of production and distribution have led to a general deterioration of working conditions, though employees sometimes enjoy greater autonomy in the management of their work. In this context, are older workers better protected than their younger counterparts, be it in terms of working time flexibility, physical strain or commercial constraints such as the pace of work dictated by demand, contact with the public or other sources of tension?

These questions are difficult to answer, since results may be distorted by selection bias, notably due to exclusion of older workers from the labour market (early retirement, unemployment etc.). Using survey data on working conditions in 1984, 1991 and 1998, Ariane PAILHÉ attempts to overcome this difficulty.

Following the recent reform of the pension system, and the lengthening of the contributory period, studies of this kind are of crucial importance.

In France, labour force participation rates for people over 55 are low: 62% for the 55-59 age group and 15% for the 60-64 age group according to the latest population census in 1999. The employment rate, which measures the proportion of persons in employment among the population of working age, is even lower (respectively 54% and 13%). At the same time, the proportion of under-25s is falling - the size of these birth cohorts has decreased and the time spent in schooling has lengthened - while the share of 40-55 year-olds is increasing, leading to a rise in the average age of persons in employment (Molinié, 1998).

Aiming to address the problems of pension system financing and increasing dependency rates, the pension reform of 21 August 2003(1) is founded on a lengthening of the contributory period and hence the prolongation of working careers. This new approach, initiated by the act of 1993(2), goes against practices set in place during previous decades, when institutional measures such as the lowering of normal retirement age, the development of early retirement, dispensation from job seeking and nondegressive benefits for unemployed people over 55 were introduced as a means to lower the number of surplus workers quickly without generating industrial unrest. This approach also runs counter to the practices of employers, who are often unwilling to hire workers over the age of 50 (Jolivet, 1999; Le Minez, 1995). Furthermore, it goes against the aspirations of many older workers who would like to retire earlier. The question of working conditions is often central to their demands, as illustrated by the development of labour disputes within certain professions (Belfer, 2004) and their role in the protests against pension reforms in the spring of 2003.

Poor working conditions damage health and lead to differential ageing (Teiger, 1989). Working history and, more specifically, working conditions influence life expectancy (Hayward et al., 1989, Moore et al., 1990, Desplanques et al., 1996), disability-free life expectancy (Cambois et al., 2001), and, more generally, health in old age (Cassou et al., 1994). Moreover, studies by epidemiologists and ergonomists indicate that certain work constraints are particularly detrimental for older workers (Krause et al.,2000;Laville, 1989).

For this reason, selection mechanisms traditionally provided a means to make adjustments between age and working conditions in the workplace through a process of worker reassignment, but also through exclusion from the workforce (Volkoff, Molinié, 1995; Molinié, 1998). Hence, during the post-war boom years, protection policies for older workers were prevalent, particularly in large companies, with personnel management based on tenure, protection against redundancy for the oldest workers, and allocation of less strenuous tasks to workers approaching retirement age. The labour market was segmented (Doeringer, Piore, 1971; Piore, 1978; cases et al., 2001) and workers with long tenure were relatively well protected. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Working Conditions: How Are Older Workers Protected in France?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.