While French workers take to the streets in protest at the thought of retiring a couple of years later, Sigal Naim of the University of Haifa’s Department of Gerontology finds that employees who agree to take early retirement would continue working if it weren’t for pressure from the workplace to do so.
The qualitative study, carried out by Naim under the supervision of Dr. Israel Doron, held in-depth interviews with men who three to five years earlier had consented to early retirement from governmental companies that had undergone privatization.
The survey finds that the retirees view retirement age as an artificial “finishing line” that is intended primarily for insurance companies’ actuarial balancing. None considered themselves old, and all feel that they still have a long and enjoyable life ahead.
The principal feeling expressed by almost all the participants was of profound disappointment in the workplace says Naim, adding that the centrality of employment in their lives, even quite a while after retirement, is expressed in the way they describe themselves.
When asked to tell their life story, most of the interviewees describe themselves in detail in terms of their working career, only a few choosing to mention family.
The survey shows that their reality is one of disappointment, a sense of insult and the realization that if they refused to retire, their pension rights would be harmed, she concludes.