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Exploring and understanding non-take-up among seniors in France

1 Many researchers have shown that a substantial share of the population has, voluntarily or otherwise, failed to exercise its rights regarding social aid. The phenomenon, commonly referred to as “non-take-up”, was slow to attract interest in France [1]. It is defined as “any person not receiving, regardless of the reason, a benefit or service to which they are entitled” (Warin, 2016). While administrations are obliged to inform the population about benefits and services, the potential beneficiaries may access them only if they assert their eligibility, i.e. by requesting them. But not all people do, or do so only in part, which raises questions on the relevance and effectiveness of the policies implemented. While accurately assessing this phenomenon and the underlying social reasons is a complex task, several hypotheses have been posited in the last few decades. These hypotheses generally put forward two reasons for non-take-up, stemming from systemic constraints concerning systems and benefits (lack of clarity, difficult access, problems relating to regulation) and from the specific positions of individuals, who may have a legitimate reason for not requesting benefits (offer failing to meet their expectations, risk of stigmatisation, etc.).

2 Non-take-up has become a major issue in public policy (Warin, 2019) and a key topic for researchers in the social sciences seeking to measure the extent, identify the causes and understand the meaning of the phenomenon, and analyse the repercussions from a political, economic and social standpoint. Yet while this subject has already been addressed by numerous scientific contributions regarding, for example, certain benefits, such as RSA (earned income supplement) and CMU (universal healthcare), and specific populations (young people, homeless people, etc.) [2], research on social rights and schemes for seniors remains relatively scarce and non-systematised [3]. Is this because non-take-up is less common in this category? Are the people designated as belonging to the category of seniors less exposed to the issue? Or do the reasons behind non-take-up on the part of this population take particular forms and have specific consequences? On a more fundamental level, we may also ask ourselves to what extent non-take-up on the part of seniors may be perceived as an illustration of the difficulties they encounter in ageing and fully exercising their citizenship. This issue of Retraite et Société reveals that non-take-up among seniors encompasses multiple issues.

3 Firstly, a link may be established between vulnerability and the loss of autonomy, an aspect insufficiently addressed by sociologies of old age (“that of the poverty of retirees and that of the incapacitating pathologies of extreme old age, both relating to the history of social policies”) (Weber, 2017, 115). While both in research work and in terms of public concern, dependent seniors have in a sense superseded poor retirees, thereby cultivating confusion between “poor retirees” and “dependent seniors” (ibid.), the question of the non-take-up of rights calls for a reason for the vulnerability of seniors, the explanation for which also requires us to address the issues of ageing and the loss of autonomy. Highlighted in cross-cutting fashion in the papers assembled here, it is this relationship that the non-take-up of seniors as a category for analysis and action permits us to envision first of all.

4 The papers in this issue of Retraite et Société also stress that while most of today’s public policies on ageing tend to be marked by preventive guidelines focused on “active ageing” (Durandal & Moulaert, 2014) and its corollaries (“ageing well”, “successful ageing”, “ageing in good health”, and so forth), this policy direction is not without its limits (Billé & Martz, 2010; Alvarez, 2017), which must be fully understood. In particular, it should not make us forget the social inequalities that persist in advancing age and the way in which these inequalities affect lifestyles in retirement.

5 These articles should also encourage us to form a more global view of reforms in the sector since the 1960s. Though proving decisive in the adaptation to demographic transformations, these measures have also served to complexify the offering and, above all, through a stacking effect, make the latter increasingly unclear for a substantial percentage of the population, including seniors. “Access to information, guidance from numerous players in care and assistance, and the simplification of administrative procedures are all major obstacles encountered in what many refer to as an ‘assault course’”. This extract from the recently published Libaut report (2018, p. 25) testifies to the potentially dissuasive effect of our organisation and the issue constituted by the simplification of access to rights with respect to social protection systems (Ogg, 2015).

6 Lastly, these articles urge us to question the development of policies that, by the very nature of the criteria they set [4], define as much as they advocate forms of behaviour liable to favour non-take-up. In this respect, the objective of this issue of Retraite et Société is manifold, the aim being to study the multiple facets of non-take-up based on a number of themes, namely the scale and diversity of the phenomenon, the motivations and life courses of the people concerned, the social consequences (individual or collective), and the prevention and reduction of non-take-up. All these topics are echoed in particular by Bertrand Fragonard[5] in his analysis of the key political and social issue represented by non-take-up in the light of the sector-based public policies that have structured this field for several decades. This all-encompassing, objective and topical discussion encourages reflection on the main challenges involved in this multi-dimensional phenomenon and its complex causes and manifestations.

Non-take-up among seniors: national and international perspectives

7 To open this discussion on non-take-up in old age, an initial self-evident aspect is the difficulty of understanding the phenomenon. This issue is reviewed in the article by Lucie Gonzalez in the Facts and Figures section. Addressing the various obstacles (theoretical and methodological alike) involved in quantifying the issue as well as the multiple economic and political challenges to which non-take-up exposes us, the author lends much-needed clarity to the multiple facets of non-take-up and focuses in particular on the specific case of seniors.

8 Like many other countries, France has not been spared by the problem of non-take-up among seniors. It is home to seniors who have either not used or not entirely used their pension rights, as discussed by Romane Beaufort, Mallory Mattmuller and Mélina Ramos-Gorand. In their article, the authors remind the reader that out of 9.3 million insurees aged 70–90, some 2.9 million have only partly taken up their pension rights. Similarly, the article by Gladys Bousquet and Aurélie Brossier informs us that over one-third of the people born between 1941 and 1951 having acquired pension rights via the Ircantec supplementary public pension scheme have not used those rights. While this share appears to have decreased relative to other generations, the phenomenon is far from marginal. These data can be compared with those of other countries in which estimations have been established. For example, in the United Kingdom, the data of the Department for Work and Pensions indicate that for the 2017-2018 budgetary year four in ten people, or over 1.2 million people eligible for pension credit [6], failed to exercise their rights [Warin, 2020]. As a result, over £2.5 billion was not spent, for an average of £2,000 for each person not taking up their rights. Nearly two million people aged 65 and over currently live in poverty in the UK. Yet if the pension credit take-up rate were to increase from the current 61% to 100%, nearly 450,000 retirees could escape poverty [7], reducing the latter to its lowest level ever (Hirsch & Stone, 2020). Slightly older estimates made for Greece show a 54% to 71% rate of non-take-up of pensions granted to seniors not participating in the old-age pension scheme [8] (Matsaganis et al., 2010). For Spain, the same authors have established a non-take-up rate of 44% regarding the minimum non-contributory pension (41% of total potential expenditure). Meanwhile, according to a 2014 OECD report, “low take-up is also a problem in the United States, where only 61%-68% of older people entitled to the means-tested benefit – the supplemental security income (SSI) – were actually receiving it” (OCDE, 2013, 81).

9 Further international comparisons extend the issue of non-take-up to include populations unable to benefit from an “old-age pension”, i.e. a regular benefit in cash. With all the requisite caution, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates worldwide that only 51.5% of the people above retirement age receive a pension, a proportion that dips to 45.6% when excluding China from the calculation (ILO, 2014). But disparities between countries are substantial, with fewer than one in five seniors (16.9%) in sub-Saharan Africa receiving a pension supposed to ensure them a “certain level of income in their old age” (ILO, 2014, 13). The family support offered by descendants and other loved ones is insufficient in itself to provide the necessary solidarity where the State is unable to intervene (Sajoux, 2019).

10 In countries with social protection systems, “competitive austerity strategies” (Burgi, 2009; Van de Velde, 2017) weigh on the care offer for elderly populations. Among “new” [9] social risks, the loss of autonomy and the long-term care it requires may result in forced non-take-up owing to a lack of available solutions, a care deficit that has long been identified by several authors (Kessler, 1994; Frinault, 2009; Martin, 2017). In societies with high longevity rates, the emergence and recognition of this risk are no small matter. On the contrary, they call for comprehensive policy discussions (Palier, 2014) on these social risks and the way in which our governments need to prepare for these growing health requirements and develop innovative responses to expectations resulting from the arrival of future generations of retirees (Guedj et al., 2018; Guillemard and Mascova, 2017).

11 Other comparative work deserves to be mentioned in the foreword to this new issue to further put into perspective the non-take-up of social rights according to groups of seniors. Experts from the European Social Policy Network (ESPN) have reported an increase in the proportion of over-65s in the homeless populations of various European countries (Baptista & Marlier, 2019). Given their greater vulnerability, non-take-up of accommodation and housing services is considerable among these individuals (Lévy, 2015). This population, along with others, such as migrants and seniors with a farming background, may be particularly exposed to non-take-up as they age, extensive research having demonstrated their difficulties in accessing rights (Plein droit, 1998; Bas-Theron & Michel, 2002; Vie sociale, 2005; Chauveaud & Warin, 2005; Rouay-Lambert, 2006; Lyet et al., 2010; Madoui, 2015; Wolff & Jovelin, 2015; Pagès, 2015; Martineau & Plard, 2018). Because while ageing is not a uniform phenomenon, neither is non-take-up on the part of seniors. Social inequalities find their full expression in old age (Guillemard, 1972, 2002; Fontaine & Pennec, 2020), vulnerability and solitude (Campéon, 2015), based on the disadvantages accumulated throughout one’s existence (Walsh & Scharf, 2020). Anne-Marie Guillemard (1972) in particular helped to forge this heuristic approach to the analysis of old age, underlining the continuity of past social class relationships in this period of life. In this respect, there is nothing particular about non-take-up on the part of seniors since, as with younger populations, it is these “disadvantages” that generate in part, or at least aggravate, the risk of non-take-up. That said, non-take-up should not be amalgamated with vulnerability or poverty, as “rich people”, young and old, may also forgo the public offering where they deem it insufficient (in terms of healthcare, education, transport, culture, etc.) [Algan & Cahuc, 2007; Gonthier, 2017], too costly (Arrighi et al., 2015) or inappropriate. Neither should we ignore the particular possibilities of non-take-up among seniors where age may be associated with the power to act, one of the multiple aspects of which (Bickel & Hugentobler, 2018) is also being able to refuse the normative content of the aid or services provided. This expression of refusal or non-adhesion on the part of seniors may be considered as a manifestation of their desire for autonomy, deciding for themselves what has meaning and what they see as desirable for maintaining the flavour of their existence. Reacting to external interference, be it from families or professionals (Leider, 2014; Balard & Somme, 2011), the elderly strive to maintain their capacity to take action and make decisions to keep this capacity from being taken away from them (Weber, 2012). This aspect was highlighted in research on the French personal independence allowance (APA) (Ramos-Gorand, 2016), revealing the extent to which non-take-up oscillates between constraints and an expression of choice. This is also demonstrated by Philippe Warin, Catherine Gucher and Stéphane Alvarez in their paper on the non-take-up of diagnoses and care among Alzheimer’s patients, notably through an analysis of the underlying reasons (notably of an identity- or family-related nature) for not choosing to adhere to diagnoses and care proposals. From this standpoint, it is interesting to note the influence of family caregivers in the decision to use, or use only in part, the protocols proposed. Because the experience of the illness cannot be understood in a social vacuum, the appearance (and repercussions) of the illness needs to be contextualised in terms of class as well as a broader relational whole largely dependent on prior family dynamics and mechanisms. From a similar perspective, the article by Sylvie Renaut lends valuable analysis to our understanding of the determinants of the aid between a senior and their family caregiver. By showing how lifestyle and gender condition access to services and aid, the author gauges the weight of the moral commitment in the decision to receive care (to the point of postponing or even compromising this possibility) and thus reveals the socially differentiated motivations of take-up.

Non-take-up and the differentiated vulnerabilities of seniors

12 A few rare studies have also attempted to compare the different forms of non-take-up according to the age (and, more rarely, the gender) of the populations concerned. A 2016 study for the Commission for the Assessment and Monitoring of Public Policies of the French National Assembly pinpoints a few specific aspects regarding seniors. In particular, a survey administered in two French departments cross-referenced the profiles of non-take-up individuals and the main causes for non-take-up reported, indicating the probable intensity of each one. It turns out that cognitive factors such as a lack of knowledge about aid or the fear of stigma supplement practical factors such as administration access difficulties and the complexity of allocation rules. However, differences were observed between the four populations under consideration (“marginalised population”, “seniors”, “poor workers” and “young people”). According to the authors of the report, the seniors most concerned by non-take-up are those with the least advantageous social positions and in isolated situations in geographic, family and/or social terms. This population lacks knowledge of benefits, does not receive benefits and does not request them, particularly in the more rural of the two departments with a more elderly population (Meunier et al., 2016, 56-57). This finding echoes other research (Petits frères des pauvres, 2019) also showing the importance of class (Burnay & Hummel, 2017) as well as relational and territorial configurations on forms of participation and, hence, the corresponding obstacles that contribute in varying degrees to non-take-up. With their specific trajectories and profiles, these populations deserve particular attention as they are often less equipped to obtain the necessary information or cope with the access problems resulting from the complexity of administrative procedures. While some people adapt and learn to live differently by developing themselves the alternatives necessary to their “survival”, others deteriorate and gradually close up, to the point where they feel a sense of abandonment that can negatively impact the work of ageing (Mallon, 2007). In this issue, the paper by Katrin Falk and Kerstin Kammerer provides valuable points of discussion for furthering knowledge on the depressive pathologies of seniors and take-up procedures, which are always problematic since they are subject to certain conditions (as much structural as social) involved in accessing psychotherapeutic aid. In the absence of well thought-out and organised support, this exposure to multiple determinants that weaken the individual can often lead to the most extreme acts. Where excessive suicide rates illustrate the distress and suffering experienced by a growing number of seniors (Campéon, 2012), non-take-up and all of its warning signs are to be considered with that much more importance.

Profiles and causes of non-take-up with respect to RSA, CMU-C, ACS and ASPA

13 As shown in Table 1 from the report for the Commission for the Assessment and Monitoring of Public Policies of the French National Assembly, the non-take-up of seniors relative to the solidarity allowance for the elderly (ASPA) and supplementary healthcare aid (ACS) suggests that individuals are vulnerable to the difficulties encountered when requesting aid or during the processing of the latter. These difficulties notably result from the digitalisation of contacts, the necessity of providing supporting documents, and the procedures involved in updating and renewing rights. In his article, François Testard shows that this is also the case concerning access to the RSA earned income supplement. The author notes that seniors ask more questions about how the benefit works than young people do. However, this result may be relativised. Compared with other population segments, seniors are less exposed to these problems in general, as demonstrated by the “Accès aux Droits” survey conducted in 2016 by Défenseur des Droits, an independent administrative authority (Warin & Olm, 2019). Nevertheless, the websites, portals and digital personal spaces that are increasingly required to access rights are in many cases incomplete, insufficiently updated or simply abstruse, their form remaining non-systematised in the absence of common rules (codes and ISO standards) that could improve the guidelines and enhance clarity. This is evidenced in the article by Sabrina Aouici and Malorie Peyrache, who explore the tension between digitalisation and the practices of seniors obliged to take this new reality on board to acquire their digital autonomy, notably with the assistance of family and friends and professionals. But in the absence of such assistance, and owing to the complex nature of the procedures and the fact that the technologies were designed without the input of elderly users (Pelizäus-Hoffmeister, 2016), many users simply refrain from requesting their rights (Koubi, 2013). These difficulties should not obscure the issue of the necessary assistance and services where seniors (and this is perhaps a distinguishing characteristic) employ a recursive process, assessing their needs according to various factors, such as their awareness of their vulnerability, the perceived effect of the latter on their habitual activities and independence, their preparation for receiving aid, and the possibility of asserting their needs (Canvin et al., 2018).

Table 1

Assessment of non-take-up for minimal allowances and care for the socially vulnerable

Table 1
Causes of non-take-up “Marginalised” population, RSA, CMU-C et ACS Seniors, ASPA, ACS Poor workers (RSA, CMU-C, ACS, employment bonus) Vulnerable employment Agricultural employees Independent professionals Young people (ACS, CMU-C, RSA) Lack of knowledge + +++ +++ ++ +++ +++ Support needs +++ ++ + +++ ++ +++ Lack of identification at benefits offices in their “Access to rights” function ++ +++ Electronification / lack of human presence ++ +++ + +++ + + Fear of stigma / shame ++ +++ ++ +++ + Disruption of rights (updating and renewal procedures) +++ +++ +++ (except for the employment bonus) + Provision of supporting documents (particularly on income) ++ +++ + Complexity of allocation conditions +++ ++ ++ Mismatch between allocation conditions and changing economic situation +++ (RSA) Principle of dissuasive aid +++ (ASPA) Usefulness not perceived and/or financial trade-offs ++ (ACS) ++ (ACS, CMU-C) Complexities relating to the use of aid +++ (ACS) Problems appropriating changes in aid + (ACS)

Assessment of non-take-up for minimal allowances and care for the socially vulnerable

Note: replacing ACS and CMU-C, complémentaire santé solidaire (solidarity healthcare supplement) is a new scheme implemented by the Social Security system on 1 November 2019 to cover healthcare expenditure and simplify access to the rights of people with modest incomes. Note on French acronyms: RSA (revenue de solidarité active): earned income supplement; CMU-C (couverture maladie universelle complémentaire): supplementary universal healthcare coverage; ACS (aide au paiement d’une complémentaire santé): supplementary healthcare aid; ASPA (allocation de solidarité aux personnes âgées): solidarity allowance for the elderly.
Source: “Évaluation du non-recours aux minima sociaux et aux soins des personnes en situation de précarité sociale” (assessment of non-take-up of minimum allowances and care for the socially vulnerable). Final report for the Commission for the Assessment and Monitoring of Public Policies of the French National Assembly, 2016.

Preventing and fighting against non-take-up among seniors

14 Looking beyond the simple analysis of non-take-up among the elderly and other population categories, it is also important to review current initiatives, at various levels of public policy, aimed at preventing seniors from being deprived of aid that could facilitate their living conditions and autonomy. Without minimising the scale of the phenomenon and the seriousness of its consequences, Bertrand Fragonard explores the efforts that are being gradually implemented to reduce and anticipate non-take-up. Government administrations and other collective bodies have introduced systems and allocated resources to reveal the existence of non-take-up risk and attempt to put an end to the phenomenon, or at least reduce its occurrence. The article by Macline Niyomwungere, Frédéric Broutin and Jérémy Lefort (Facts and Figures section) is interesting in this respect as it analyses an experiment on initiatives to fight against ASPA non-take-up based on data-mining targeting coordinated by CNAV’s Statistics, Forecasting and Research Department. Drawing on a double-entry survey, the authors establish a typology of ASPA beneficiaries as well as a profile of non-take-up individuals and the actions undertaken by several regional pension offices to understand and combat the phenomenon. Even more fundamentally, the article underscores the interest of the targeting method used to “hold on to” certain insurees. From a different standpoint, Mickaël Blanchet analyses the issue of services, such as social centres. In his article, he forms a typology of the activities proposed by social centres and seeks to understand the engagement potential they may foster. Regarding the question of whether these centres are actually reaching their audience, the author advocates caution, notably showing how the ability to achieve engagement depends on the missions and territories of these centres, as well as their capacity to gain recognition as legitimate contact points providing services commensurate with expectations and needs. This same conclusion is arrived at by François Testard, who demonstrates the importance of the support offering, especially where the RSA system strays from its main role of fighting against poverty to focus on the fight against the presumed inactivity of beneficiaries. To prevent the system from dissuading potential beneficiaries, French territories are seeking to create the conditions for securing access to the benefit by properly disseminating information and the requisite tools to the public.

Can age determine the requisite actions for reducing and preventing non-take-up?

15 Concerned by the numerous obstacles faced by seniors in accessing and exercising their rights, the Société Française de Gériatrie et Gérontologie reiterated, for the 70th anniversary of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights in December 2018, that “rather than defining special rights that would run counter to universality, we need to lift the obstacles that prevent elderly citizens from accessing and exercising their rights” (SFGG, 2018, 2). The actions presented here to fight against senior non-take-up are informed by this same goal. In her article, Élisa Chanial reports on an experiment on peer-based digital mediation in a priority urban area and shows how the method serves to bring down the barriers raised by the digitalisation of contact with administrative bodies and public services.

16 Yet the question of the rights of seniors, a recurrent issue since 1962 [10], calls for new rights facilitating the adaptation of society to ageing. The French parliament responded to the issue by introducing a law on 1 January 2016 that places the priority on at-home support (notably by reforming APA at home and by highlighting the concept of the silver economy [11]), the aim being to enable seniors to age at home in good conditions [12]. However, the rights in question also concern the position of seniors relative to services with a negative impact (for example, when the services proposed to facilitate administrative procedures flirt with the abuse of vulnerable people [Fauvel, 2021]) and, more broadly, their personal sphere (for example, to protect seniors remarrying from disputes with family members concerned about their inheritance [Evrard & Fresnel, 2016]). These protective rights may also be subject to non-take-up that is largely ignored. The deep-seated reasons behind this non-take-up need to be fully understood before deciding on specific responses. More globally, the take-up and non-take-up of jurisdictional and non- jurisdictional systems, whether or not they concern disputes, constitute a blind spot on which light must be shed, since it also controls access to social rights (Warin, 2020). This subject is important to understanding the non-take-up of rights, and even an urgent issue, given that the COVID-19 pandemic has further undermined the legal protection of individuals who are vulnerable owing to their age and left to fend for themselves (Évrard, 2020). In this respect, has the French law on the modernisation of the legal system of the 21st century, which, effective from 1 January 2019, modified the procedure for contesting rulings issued by departmental council presidents concerning APA, social housing aid, child support obligations, the recovery of social contributions (recours sur succession), and “integration transport passes” (CMI [13]) [14], facilitated the access to rights of seniors along with other population categories, by requiring individuals to make a preliminary appeal to the departmental council president prior to going before a judge? In any case, insufficient use has been made of mandatory prior administrative appeals (recours administration préalable obligatoire) to all referrals by administrative judges introduced for the implementation of the RSA earned income supplement (Isidro & Magord, 2016).

17 The papers making up this new issue of Retraité et Société show that non-take-up concerns the implementation of benefits and services. Bertrand Fragonard considers that “non-take-up is a poorly informed judgment”, the phenomenon mainly relating to the individual’s appropriation of their eligibility. All the other aspects, and in particular disagreements with rules that may lead to an intentional non-request, are a problem of substantive condition rather than non-take-up.

18 This account of non-take-up has the merit of clarity. It posits that the main source of non-take-up is the complexity of the terms and conditions of the offering. And it is backed up by extensive proof, much of it from administrative bodies and public services. Policy players, then, are confronted with their responsibilities. At any rate, it would be wonderful if this were the case, as it would confirm the success of initiatives taken to combat non-take-up, announced as a priority in the plans and strategies on the fight against poverty having blossomed in profusion at the start of each French presidential term since 2012. The ongoing intensity of the phenomenon, as reviewed here with seniors, shows that while some progress has been made, much still needs to be done.

19 But it would be hazardous to reduce non-take-up simply to poorly informed judgment. By making a distinction between intentional non-requests and non-take-up, action taken against non-take-up would be exonerated from the necessity of justifying “substantive conditions”, i.e. political choices. Several of the papers in this issue also show that non-take-up can also be interpreted as a refusal to adhere to the offer proposed, rather than simply the necessity to know and understand it. This is true for seniors, as for other population segments, and is difficult to disregard.


  • [1]
    It was only from the mid-1990s onwards that the first assessments of non-take-up were launched on an initiative by CNAF to measure non-take-up of child support. On this subject, see the special issue of the Recherches et prévisions journal (43, 1996) entitled Accès aux droits. Non-recours aux prestations. Complexité. However, one of the first articles to explicitly refer to non-take-up was that of Catrice-Lorey, in Revue française des affaires sociales, in 1976 (and republished as an appendix to Warin, 2016). For a socio-historical review of the conditions behind the emergence of non-take-up on the political agenda, the reader may also refer to Chapter 1, “Modèles d’analyse et définition du non-recours”.
  • [2]
    Extensive research now exists on non-take-up, notably by Warin (2020); Révil, including “Le ‘non- recours’ à la couverture maladie universelle et sa mise à l’agenda de l’Assurance maladie : un phénomène qui travaille l’institution”; Domingo & Pucci (2013), “Les vecteurs du non-recours au revenu de solidarité active du point de vie de l’usager”; and the them-based issue, Ceux qui ne demandent rien, of the Vie Sociale journal (2008).
  • [3]
    In the field of ageing, the lion’s share of studies (in sociology and psychology) has focused on non-take-up in healthcare and the socio-medical offering. See Paquet, 2000; Ostrowski, 2013; Coudin, 2004 and 2011; Ramos-Gorand, 2016; Gucher et al., 2011.
  • [4]
    This was true of the experiment on the specific dependency scheme (“prestation spécifique dépendance”) that, owing to the recovery of social contributions (“recours sur succession”) and the exclusion of individuals able to walk but not to sit down, lie down or get up (the “GIR4” category), led to widespread non-take-up on the part of eligible individuals. See for example Jourdain, 2001.
  • [5]
    Bertrand Fragonard is Chairman of the High Council for Old Age and Vice-Chairman of the High Council for the Family, Childhood and Old Age (HCFEA).
  • [6]
    This credit is granted to UK residents having reached the legal retirement age and with low incomes.
  • [7]
    In France, a poor person is one with a monthly income of less than €918 (poverty threshold set at 50%) or €1,102 (poverty threshold set at 50%). INSEE data, 2019.
  • [8]
    The national pension, which is not funded by contributions but directly by the state budget. A contributory pension exists in parallel, calculated on the basis of earnings on which contributions have been paid. European Commission, 2020, “Your social security rights in Greece” [online].
  • [9]
    “New” in the sense that they have not been taken into account by national social protection systems.
  • [10]
    “The Laroque report addressed this issue in 1962. Twenty-five years later, in 1987, the ‘Droits et Libertés’ Commission of the (now defunct) National Gerontology Fondation developed a charter of the rights and freedoms of disabled or dependent seniors, which was translated into several languages and copied by other countries starting in 1987 and was reviewed in 2007. Regarding practitioners, the sub-commission for vulnerable adults of the Paris bar in 1996 carried out pioneering work in this new field that, while not specifically targeting seniors, addressed them all, and increasingly so. More recently, the “Bien Vieillir” (ageing well) National Plan, launched in 2007, and the Alzheimer’s Plan, launched in 2008, revived action and discussions on the subject.” (Évrard & Fresnel, 2016, 43).
  • [11]
    The aim with the “silver economy” is to support the ageing of society through economic activity and the development of employment (Rengot, 2015; Guérin, 2018).
  • [12]
    Law no. 2015-1776 of 28 December 2015 on adapting society to ageing.
  • [13]
    The aim of the inclusion mobility card (carte mobilité inclusion, or CMI) is to facilitate travel for people with diminishing autonomy.
  • [14]
    Law no. 2016-1547 of 18 November 2016 on the modernisation of the justice system of the 21st century.


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Arnaud Campéon
Sociologist, lecturer-researcher at EHESP (French School of Public Health), Arènes laboratory
Mélina Ramos-Gorand
Geographer, associate researcher, University of Lorraine, Beta laboratory
Philippe Warin
Sociologist, research director, co-founder of the Observatory of non-take-up (Odenore), Grenoble Alpes University, CNRS, Sciences Po Grenoble, Pacte laboratory)
Translated by
James Tovey
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