13 February 2023 1115 words, 5 min. read

Early retirement: what do the French think? [Survey 2023]

By Pierre-Nicolas Schwab PhD in marketing, director of IntoTheMinds
IntoTheMinds has carried out a survey of 2000 people in 4 different countries on early retirement. In this first article, we reveal the results for France. We want to isolate this country because of the strikes currently agitating the country […]

IntoTheMinds has carried out a survey of 2000 people in 4 different countries on early retirement. In this first article, we reveal the results for France. We want to isolate this country because of the strikes currently agitating the country around the government’s project to push back the retirement age to 64 (instead of 62). We reveal a ranking of the professions that the French consider worthy of earlier retirement. You will see that the French if they want to work until the last day without loss of pay, understand the hardship of some jobs.

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Finally, we remind you that all the results can be reused if you use the link to our website. You’ll find a sharing link below each graphic. If you are a journalist, don’t hesitate to contact us for more details.

The results in brief

  • The majority of French people reject the idea of a drop in revenue as they approach retirement, even in exchange for a reduction in working hours
  • The preferred scenario for 28.4% of the French as they approach retirement is to work normally without a reduction in salary
  • 70% of the French approve of certain professions being able to retire early. Support is particularly strong among the over-24s
  • Women are 6 points more in favor than men (73.2% vs. 67.2%) of allowing certain professions to retire early
  • 76.6% of the French agree that construction workers should retire earlier
  • Only 1/3 of the French think that teachers should be able to retire earlier
  • The 3 most popular professions for early retirement are: firefighters, construction workers, healthcare workers
  • The 3 least popular professions for early retirement are: air traffic controllers, postal workers, teachers

How do the French want to work as they approach retirement?

We submitted 5 statements to the French respondents from which they had to choose the one that suited them the most. Across the different age groups, 2 scenarios stand out as the most popular:

  • working without adjustment until retirement age (28.4% of respondents)
  • working until retirement age with accommodations (28.2%)

On the other hand, we note that scenarios involving a reduction in remuneration are rejected, even when associated with a reduction in working hours. The French, therefore, place the preservation of their revenue above the adjustments that would allow them to retire smoothly. This idyllic vision of a full career needs to follow the reality of current statistics. Only 56 percent of 55- to 64-year-olds are working in France, compared with more than 70 percent in Germany and Sweden.

survey results : what French would like short before retirement

Further research on the responses shows significant differences according to the:

  • age
  • gender

The scenario most favored by women is an adjustment a few years before retirement. Men, on the other hand, want to work until the end under the same conditions. This result will not help to get rid of the clichés.

Age also plays a role, as we can see significant differences across the 5 age groups we researched (18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, >55). Here are the main results to remember (if you are a journalist and want to have access to the complete results, don’t hesitate to contact us):

  • We observe a transition from the age of 45 onwards: respondents over 45 largely prefer the option of working without adjustments until retirement age (34% of those aged 45-54, and 39% of those over 54)
  • Among those over 54, the option of working without adjustment “crushes” all others.
  • Among 24–44-year-olds, the scenario with adjustment is the preferred option. Among 35–44-year-olds, 44% opt for this scenario.
  • Among 18–24-year-olds, for whom retirement is probably only a very distant potential, no scenario emerges. They are all around 20%, with some small variations that fall within the margin of error (4.4%).

70% of the French want to let some of their compatriots retire earlier.

The French approve early retirement for certain professions

The French favor retirement without any adjustments (and without loss of salary). But what about the others?

As we have seen, there is a great deal of opposition in France, where special pension schemes drain the accounts. They are the ones who would jeopardize the budget balance and the financing of pensions. Some special pension schemes are legacies of the 17th century. Louis XIV granted privileges to those who worked at the Paris Opera. These “privileges,” in the form of a retirement age of 57 for certain functions, will not be called into question.

Despite this, the French are inclined to let some of their compatriots retire earlier. Only 14.2% oppose the proposal, compared to 70.2% who support it. Support is strong across all age groups, but especially among the 25+. A final lesson from this survey concerns the difference in perception between men and women. Women are 6 percentage points more likely to support early retirement for certain occupations (73.2% versus 67.2% for men).

survey results : support of French people for early retirement of certain professionnals

What professions do the French want to see retire earlier?

This survey would not have been complete without asking the French about the professions they consider most “worthy” of earlier retirement. We carried out a selection of 12 professions, some of which benefit from a special retirement scheme. The results are surprising. We offer you several insights.

Construction workers: the most popular for early retirement

The first way to interpret the results is to classify the professions according to the percentage of French people who approve of retiring before the legal retirement age (see graph below). To simplify the reading, we have classed the 12 professions tested in descending order of acceptance of early retirement.

Construction workers received 76.6% support, ahead of firefighters (69.6%) and nurses’ aides (65%).

The professions with the least support are teachers (32%), postal workers (36.2%), air traffic controllers (37.4%), and railway workers (49.6%).

Difference between supporters and non-supporters: early retirement for teachers overwhelmingly rejected

Another way to read this graph is to differentiate between those who support early retirement (in green) and those who oppose it (in orange and red). The ranking does not change, but the numbers give us an idea of the extent of the opposition. For railway workers, for example, the support of the French population for early retirement is -3%. So, there are more opponents than supporters.
Here is the full table. As you will see, the top of the ranking changes (the firefighters come first).

Profession Support de la population française à un départ anticipé à la retraite (pourcentage des supporters – pourcentage des opposants)
construction workers
healthcare workers
garbage collectors
law enforcement
airline pilots
prison guards
train drivers
air traffic controllers
postal workers


survey results : professions that the French agree to let go earlier in retirement


Our survey was carried out on January 26 and 27, 2023, using the CAWI method among 500 French people over 18, in partnership with the Pollfish company. The respondents were divided equally into 5 age groups, and male/female parity was respected in the answers.
The age groups used are 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, and 55+.

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