Lisbon, we’ve got a problem!

What European workers want when it comes to balancing life and work is the exact opposite of what the Lisbon strategy foresees, a recent study conducted by French scientists finds.

A recent study, entitled “Aspiration à la retraite, santé et satisfaction au travail : une comparaison européenne” (“Looking forward to retirement, health and job satisfaction. A European comparative survey”), suggests EU leaders will have big problems communicating to their electorate their commitments on retirement made at the 2000 Lisbon European Council. 

According to the study that covers 10 EU countries, 57% of French and two thirds of Spanish workers aged 50 to 59 say they want to retire as soon as possible. Even in the Netherlands, where workers are most eager to work during their old age, 31% say they would rather retire earlier. 


Where people most want to retire earlier: percentage of workers aged 50 – 59 seeking earlier retirement. 

Source: Share research

Factors such as individual job satisfaction and health affect people’s wish to retire earlier. Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that painful and badly paid jobs often affect health and job satisfaction negatively and resulted in them seeking early retirement. 


Influence of job perceptions and satisfaction on early retirement wishes (e.g. among workers being afraid of facing health problems before they retire, 15% more than among the average wish to retire earlier. On the other hand, among workers who are happy with their jobs, 14.2% fewer wish to retire earlier than among the average). 

Source: Share research

The Lisbon strategy envisages curbing pension costs by raising the average retirement age by five years to 65 by 2010. No EU country comes close to that target, however, with average retirement ages in 2002 varying between 56.9 years in Poland and 62.3 years in Sweden.

The Lisbon strategy and socio-economic reforms are on the top of the agenda at the 23 - 24 March 2006 Spring Council under the Austrian Presidency. At this occassion, politicians may also debate how to communicate some of the less popular Lisbon targets to their populations. 

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