02/07/2021

Baby boomers, the big losers

2 min
Trebaladors in action an archive image

The pension system has long been in question. The structural unemployment of the Spanish economy, much higher than the European average (and aggravated by the last two crises, together with the progressive precariousness of the labour market in recent decades, which has harmed not only workers but also Social Security contributions), has led the pension system to a situation that is unsustainable over time. To this we must add two more factors. One, which is obvious, is the lengthening of life expectancy: many people live 30 or more years after retirement. The other factor is that the baby boom generation, which in Catalonia and Spain is the generation born between the late 50s and early 70s, is now approaching retirement age on a massive scale, which has made it imperative to act before there is a collapse. It is no longer enough to keep chasing the ball forward. The problem is already upon us, it is time to face the situation. And Europe has become serious. For all these reasons, the reform that the Spanish government has now introduced cannot surprise anyone. We were warned.

The early retirements that have been experienced until now, in some cases at very young ages and with very beneficial conditions, will soon be history. And the workers who have paid for them with their taxes until now will not be able to enjoy comparable conditions in any case. The Minister of Social Security, José Luís Escrivá, has been very crude when it comes to expressing it: baby boomers will have to extend their working life or, if not, accept a lower pension. In fact, Escrivá himself, born in 1960, is part of this generation of those who will suffer the consequences. The mechanism that establishes this has yet to be agreed on with the social partners. In any case, it seems that there is no turning back, and baby boomers will have to make an effort either by working more years or by resigning to a lower retirement.

The measure must help to stop the blow, but by itself it will not solve the future of the pension system if at the same time there is no change in the labour market in two ways: on the one hand, unemployment must be brought down and, on the other, it must be achieved with quality jobs, well paid and, therefore, with their tax contributions to supply the Social Security. It is in this double way that the shock plan presented by the Catalan government makes sense, which will allocate a record 917 million euros for employment policies, thinking especially of women, young people, people over 45 and vulnerable groups. It is an ambitious plan against unemployment, which aims to reach half a million citizens and includes training actions and aims to transform the production model. The money will come from the EU, the State and the Generalitat itself. Only with a healthy economy, banishing structural unemployment and creating jobs for the future will the pension system be guaranteed and perhaps one day the comparative disadvantage for baby boomers can be reversed.

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