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Quelle solidarité intergénérationnelle ?

Listed author(s):
  • André Masson
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    [fre] Ecart grandissant entre les niveaux de vie des jeunes et des vieux ; envolée préoccupante des transferts publics à destination des plus âgés (santé, retraite) ; bouleversement des rela- tions et comportements familiaux entre générations (co-résidence prolongée avec les jeunes enfants adultes par exemple). Ces difficultés conduisent à s'interroger sur le bien fondé des solidarités générationnelles (publiques ou privées), censées réduire l'incertitude et mettre en œuvre des réciprocités indirectes, ascendante ou descendante, entre trois générations successives. La discussion permet d'opposer deux visions de l' Etat-providence. Pour les uns, ce rôle serait devenu néfaste : l'action publique serait créatrice d'incertitude et avantagerait indûment les plus vieux dans la lutte des générations. Pour d'autres au contraire, comme G. Becker, l'Etat-providence conduirait à une coopération efficace et équitable entre générations : en les déchargeant du souci du financement de leurs vieux jours, il aiderait les familles modestes ou moyennes à consacrer les investissements appropriés dans l'éducation de leurs enfants. Appliquée aux retraites, cette analyse montre que le débat technique entre répartition et capitalisation n'est souvent que le reflet d'un autre débat, plus politique, concernant l'âge de la retraite ou la durée d'activité. [eng] The widening gap between the well- being of old and young people ; the worrying increase in public transfers towards elderly people ; the change in intergenerational family relations and behaviours (such as the lengthened coresidence with young adult children). These difficulties moti- vate a reassessment of the functioning of (private or public) « solidarities » between generations, which should reduce uncertainty and enforce rules of « indirect » (ascending or descending) reciprocity between three succeeding generations. The discussion enlights two opposite views concerning the role of the welfare state. According to some (liberal) economists, this role has become harmful : public policy now creates uncertainty ; in the conflict between generations, moreover, the state takes sides with the old ones. For others, including Gary Becker, state intervention is part of an advantageous and profitable cooperation between generations, the public support of the elderly allowing poor or middle class families to achieve efficient levels of human capital investments in their children. As far as pensions are concerned, this analysis shows that the technical debate between pay- as-you-go and funded schemes usually conceals a more crucial and political issue, concerning the age of retirement.

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    Article provided by Programme National Persée in its journal Revue française d'économie.

    Volume (Year): 14 (1999)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 27-90

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    Handle: RePEc:prs:rfreco:rfeco_0769-0479_1999_num_14_1_1073
    Note: DOI:10.3406/rfeco.1999.1073
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    1. Arrondel, Luc & Laferrere, Anne, 2001. "Taxation and wealth transmission in France," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 3-33, January.
    2. Gordon, Roger H. & Varian, Hal R., 1988. "Intergenerational risk sharing," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 185-202, November.
    3. Lindbeck, A., 1994. "Uncertainty under the Welfare State - Policy Induced Risk -," Papers 576, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
    4. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "The Family and the State," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 1-18, April.
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