CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

The relevance and effectiveness of survivor’s pensions are increasingly being called into question, as they were introduced at a time when marriage was the predominant form of couple life, divorce was rare, and men were the main provider of household resources. The transition from the current annuity pension system in France (a system which is composed of numerous schemes) to a universal points system would not only lead to the unification of marital rights but also to a redefinition of the objectives of the survivor’s pension which currently has different rationales depending on the type of pension scheme. The current mix of asset, insurance and social assistance logics results in many disparities between widows depending on the affiliation scheme of the deceased spouse. This article presents the existing disparities in the survivor’s pension system. It proposes ways to reform survivors’ pensions, in particular with a view to maintaining the surviving spouse’s standard of living. Using couple retirement pension data (Fidéli 2016), we highlight the redistribution that would be generated by the transition to a survivor’s pension system of this type, according to the level of women’s own pensions and those of couples. When their deceased partner was employed in the private sector, women with the lowest pensions, regardless of the survivor’s pension scheme to which they belong, as well as those with a high pension level, would have a higher rate of survivor’s pension and this would be more favourable to maintaining their standard of living than under the current system. At level of the couple, the widows of a private-sector employee from couples with the highest pensions would gain from the introduction of a system that maintains living standards, at the expense of a loss, on a smaller scale, for those from other couples. The effect would be the reverse for widows of a former civil servant.


  • survivors’ benefits
  • widowhood
  • pension reforms
  • redistributions
Carole Bonnet
Antoine Bozio
Julie Tréguier
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
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