“We must take into account the “blank years” of thousands of young scientists”
ATWith good reason, the consequences of successive pension reforms are analyzed from the angle of long careers and their arduousness. They are at the heart of the movement protesting the postponement of the legal retirement age to 64 years. One proposal is to extend the contribution periods for the most qualified. However, the extension of the contribution period already strongly penalizes a highly qualified population with a specific background: researchers.
Between 1985 and 2007, thousands of young scientists, particularly in the life sciences, carried out full-time paid research activity which, today, is not taken into account for their retirement. A report on “the illegal working conditions of young researchers” published in 2004 explained it. Before possible recruitment in the French research sector, researchers carry out a doctorate (three years minimum) and for the most part, one or more post-doctoral stays (two to five years on average, but often more) in laboratories in France. or abroad. For this research activity, these scientists were paid by “liberalities”, that is to say scholarships which gave rise to neither social security nor retirement. These selective scholarships came from charities (ARC Foundation for Cancer Research, League Against Cancer, Foundation for Medical Research), regions, the European Union, other countries or international organizations (l European Molecular Biology Organization)
This system ended in 2007 with their replacement by fixed-term contracts. A post-doctoral stay of several years in France or in the most prestigious foreign research institutes and universities was and remains the “course of excellence” considered essential by research organizations to qualify for an academic career. The scientists were then remunerated by highly competitive French or international scholarships, or by the host laboratory abroad without this giving them the right to retire. These situations, almost systematic twenty years ago in some countries like the United States, persist. Moreover, the children born during these years are not taken into account in the calculation of the pension rights of the researchers.
In some cases, post-doctoral researchers have contributed to the pension funds of the host country without these contributions being taken into account in their career statement. Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, do not remit a pension for contribution periods of less than ten years. Others, like Switzerland, condition the payment of the pension on a procedure – long and difficult – from the French pension fund to the Swiss fund. Finally, some bilateral agreements allow the years spent in the foreign country to be taken into account when calculating the retirement rate in France, but no longer apply if the person becomes ultimately a public servant. This is the case of the agreement concluded between France and the United States. Many researchers working in public bodies are therefore concerned. No redemption of the quarters worked corresponding to the activity financed by donations or carried out abroad is possible. Finally, buying back terms of study is often unaffordable for most given the salaries in higher education and the search for those who have been lucky enough to be recruited there.
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