We’ll call you

OECD Observer

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On vous rappellera (Don’t call us, we’ll call you!): this is the title of French writer Sophie Talneau’s book in which she satirises the difficulties young French people meet when looking for work. Nearly half of new graduates spend at least a year out of work. Only 30% of France’s 15-24 year-olds employed, one of the lowest rates in the OECD.

France’s youth employment has fallen gradually since the 1970s, reflecting a rise in educational enrolment rates among 15-24 year-olds. However, enrolment rose in other OECD countries too, with less effect on their youth employment.

The employment of older people in France is also below the OECD norm, at 37%. Yet, France’s prime-age employment (25-54 year-olds) is above the OECD average. In short, French workers enter the labour market late and leave it early. In 2002, only 51% of unskilled men aged 50 to 64 in France had jobs, compared with 88% in Iceland. The current official retirement age is 60, lower than most OECD countries.

Reducing unemployment, running at around 10%, is not easy, and given budget pressures from ageing, policies to reform the labour market to improve opportunities for younger and older workers will be needed.

See also

OECD (2005) Ageing and Employment Policies in France.

“French pension pickle”, OECD Observer No 238, July 2003. Please click here

©OECD Observer No 248, March 2005

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