La guerre générationnelle en Europe

PRINCETON – Aux quatre coins du monde industrialisé, les gouvernements se précipitent pour distribuer de l'argent aux personnes âgées. Le gouvernement de l'Allemagne a non seulement fait volte-face sur une augmentation de l'âge de la retraite qui était prévue pour rendre les pensions plus abordables ; il a également annoncé récemment une augmentation de 5% des allocations, ce qui représente la plus grande hausse depuis 1993 (quand, contrairement à aujourd'hui, l'Allemagne était effectivement confrontée à l'inflation). Quant au gouvernement formé par le parti Droit et Justice en Pologne, l’une des toutes premières mesures qu’il a prises après être arrivé au pouvoir l’an dernier fut de diminuer l'âge de la retraite et d’augmenter les paiements.

À une époque où les budgets publics sont contraints, cette tendance peut sembler contre-intuitive. Et, en fait, le gouvernement du Royaume-Uni a pris le chemin inverse, réduisant les prestations d'invalidité (bien qu’un ministre ait démissionné en signe de protestation). Ceci étant, la tendance globale à l’augmentation des prestations en faveur des personnes âgées a une explication simple: la politique.

Alors que les populations en Europe et au Japon vieillissent, la pyramide démographique est en train de s’inverser rapidement – et une guerre des générations se dessine, remplaçant celle des classes. La guerre est menée principalement sur le champs des urnes électorales – les personnes âgées gagnent les élections, pendant que les jeunes restent à la maison – et les butins se retrouvent dans le budget national, dans l'équilibre entre éducation, pensions, soins de santé et régimes fiscaux. Avec cet affrontement, le pacte intergénérationnel qui sous-tend la stabilité sociale et politique a été rompu.

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