Petra Stark-Ruthenberg is 66 and retired in August. No question for this active woman, mother and grandmother, to stop working. “Retirement scares me” explains this executive assistant employed for 49 years at Deutsche Bahn, the equivalent of the French SNCF. “I didn’t want to be at home all day doing nothing. As my company lacks personnel, she offered me to continue working in the same position. I accepted. And like that, next year I will celebrate my 50 years of service in the same company. It is an exploit ! », laughs this Stuttgart-based Berliner.
Petra Stark-Ruthenberg has negotiated to be able to work from home and sees only advantages in the continuation of her salaried activity. “I receive my pension and my salary. This allows me to treat myself to small pleasures. It’s a real advantage.” she assures, while minimizing this financial aspect. “I have a good retirement, it would be enough for me. But I don’t spit on a supplement”, she notes.
Like Petra Stark-Ruthenberg, more and more German seniors are working. If Germany is not European champion in this area, it is in the lead pack, far ahead of France. Last year, 61% of 60-64 year olds were active. An upward trend of almost 20 points in ten years, according to the federal statistics office, Destatis. As for the 65-69 year olds, they were 17% to work last year, against 10% in 2011. 73% of them exercised a part-time activity.
“The majority want to continue working”
This increase is partly explained by the change in the law which, in 2012, increased the retirement age from 65 to 67 years. This change is being made in stages between now and 2029. But this reform alone does not explain this increase in the activity of seniors across the Rhine. “The level of activity of the over 65s has tripled since the year 2000”, says Karl Brenke of the DIW economic research center in Berlin.
“The vast majority of them want to continue working once they retire, to stay active, he explains. Moreover, companies are doing everything to keep them in their fold as they are understaffed due to the aging population. They need to retain their qualified employees. »
Lower pensions than in France
One of the German peculiarities is indeed the high level of qualification of seniors who continue to work. This was the case for 72% of 60-64 year olds still active last year. “People who do physical jobs work shorter hours, it’s logical, observes Karl Brenke. This phenomenon thus reflects the constant rise in the level of qualification of the Germans. »
Another reason justifies the continuation of an economic activity once retired: the level of pensions, lower than in France. On average, after 45 years of contribution, retirees receive 48% of their former salary, against more than 70% in France. As confirmed by Destatis, without additional economic activity, 40% of still active retirees would find themselves in a so-called “relative poverty”.
Economist Karl Brenke, however, tends to relativize. “Of course, there are poor pensioners, but in general the standard of living of German pensioners has never been as high as it is today. The proliferation of part-time jobs that we have seen in recent years will, on the other hand, play a negative role for pensions in the future”, he notes.
On the side of political authorities and economic circles, facilitating the accumulation of retirement and employment of seniors remains in any case a priority, while the working population is aging and the lack of labor is becoming structural.