The concept of “healthy life years” (HLY) came up recently when Emmanuel Macron, the current president and candidate for this year’s presidential election, was asked about it during an interview while he was discussing his plan to raise the retirement age in France to 65.
“Do you know that the age of years of life in good health in France is 64? BFMTV journalist Bruce Toussaint interviewed Mr. Macron on April 11.
This is not the first time that the concept has come up in the debates on the modification of the retirement age in France.
Mr Macron has been trying for several years to overhaul the French pension system and has announced his intention to raise the retirement age from 62 to 65.
More recently, he said he was willing to be flexible on this policy and didn’t need to implement it immediately. It is likely an attempt to curry favor with left-leaning voters, who oppose raising the age and are seen as essential to winning the second round of elections.
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Marine Le Pen, whom he will face in the second round of the presidential election on April 24, wants to keep the age at 62.
She also raised the issue of HLY (healthy life expectancy, in French) in the run-up to the 2017 presidential election, which she ultimately lost to Mr Macron.
– Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) March 20, 2017
Here we take a look at what it is and why it is important to discuss retirement age.
What is the ‘healthy life years’ measure?
HLY is also known as Disability Free Life Expectancy or Sullivan’s Index. It is a European structural indicator and is one of the measures used to assess the health and well-being of a population.
It is not the same as “life expectancy,” which offers estimates of how long a man or woman will live in a country on average.
Instead, Healthy Life Years measures the number of remaining years an average person of a certain age is expected to live without disability, impairment, or interference with normal life.
The metric provides two estimates, one is a person’s remaining healthy life years at the time of birth, and the other is a person’s remaining healthy life years from age 65 onwards. . It is calculated for both men and women.
The Drees, French statistical agency, which depends on the Ministry of Solidarity and Health, defines it as follows:
“The number of years a person can expect to live without being limited in their daily activities.”
This limitation can come either from an illness or from a physical disability.
HLY is measured both in France by DREES and in Europe by Eurostat.
In France, the data is based on a survey of 16,000 households.
What is the life expectancy in good health in France?
Contrary to what BFMTV journalist Mr Toussaint told President Macron, years of healthy life remaining at birth in France average just over 65, the most recent. DREES data, published in 2020, show.
This breaks down into 65.9 years for women and 64.4 years for men.
Between 2008 and 2020, the AVS of women in France increased by one year and five months and that of men by one year and eight months.
A 65-year-old woman in France could, in 2020, expect to live 12.1 years longer without disability, and 18.1 years longer without severe disability.
A man of the same age in 2020 could expect to live 10.6 years longer without disability and 15.7 years longer without severe disability.
The AVS at age 65 for women increased by two years and one month between 2008 and 2020, and by one year and 11 months for men.
France’s HLY score is within the EU average. The table below shows the latest EU figures, which are from 2019.
Does the HLY matter in the retirement age debate?
Raising the retirement age in France from 62 to 65 has proven to be a highly controversial proposal.
But it is currently weak compared to its neighbors and other EU countries.
For context, the statutory retirement age in the UK is 65 and is set to rise to 67 by 2028.
Germany is 65 years and seven months old, Spain 65, Italy 67 and Belgium 65.
In Sweden it is 61, and in a few other countries the retirement age for men and women is different, and women can retire at 60.
Most countries have recently increased or plan to increase the statutory retirement age as people live longer and health care improves.
But deciding at what age to raise it is tricky and should be taken seriously.
The French anthropologist and author of the 2020 book ‘On the inequality of lives’, about the inequality in life expectancy of different people, said the HLY measure is important when considering the retirement age.
“Today, the poorest contribute to pay the pensions of the richest. The retirement age should be calculated according to HLY, which the reform envisaged by the President of the Republic does not take into consideration”, he told the world.
Jean-Marie Robine, a demographer at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) and an expert on the society’s aging also said it was an important metric.
“If we want a just society, and if we can’t stop death or disease, we can at least act on the retirement age,” he said.
Emmanuelle Cambois, a researcher at the National Institute for Demographic Studies (INED), said raising the retirement age could have unfair consequences for those most in need.
“If careers are extended, those who are most vulnerable due to ‘finances and/or hardship’ may not be able to reach full retirement age.
“What they wouldn’t cost in pensions, they would cost in unemployment and sickness benefits,” she said.
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