French anger over pension law tops global protests in 2023

(Bloomberg) – Protests around the world against pension rules and benefits have more than tripled this year as countries from France to Iran to India grapple with changing demographics and pressures they exert on national finances.

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France has taken center stage with a series of nationwide strikes and protests that began in January against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the minimum retirement age by two years to 64.

There have been more than 3,800 French protests through April, according to Bloomberg calculations based on data released by the Armed Conflict Location Event Data Project, which collects local media reports of unrest around the world.

Those numbers peaked in March – when the Macron government survived no-confidence motions to allow the pension reform bill to pass without holding a full vote in parliament – ​​and remained high in April.

Public pension costs in developed economies are expected to skyrocket in coming decades as a share of gross domestic product. While Macron has argued that the burden must be brought under control, some countries have eased planned reforms following social backlash.

Data from ACLED, which classifies the unrest into categories ranging from battles and violence against citizens to riots and protests, shows that it’s not just Western countries grappling with global demographic shifts.

A total of 78 countries have been the subject of media reports of protests or riots related to pension reform this year.

Meanwhile, French unions have called for a new day of nationwide strikes and marches next Tuesday. A poll this week showed they still enjoy majority public support, although support has fallen since its peak.

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