Tunis/Tunisia — The Tunisian Institute for Strategic Studies (ITES) recently published a study on the theme, "What future for pensioners in Tunisia", in collaboration with the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation, whose objective is to understand the place of pensioners in current Tunisian society, as well as to develop a typology of the behaviours of this segment of the population during retirement.
The study in question is based on the observation that the phenomenon of ageing has gradually widened in recent years to affect societies whose population is characterised by its youth. According to the study, there is also talk of a national awareness that encourages people to face the multiple repercussions of the phenomenon in question and to develop a reflection on the future of Tunisian pensioners.
The study thus indicates that the ageing of the Tunisian population is one of the most striking phenomena of the first half of the 21st century.
In a few years' time, according to the study, Tunisia will experience a new demographic orientation thanks to the various efforts undertaken on the social and health levels. Tunisian society has entered a phase of demographic transition. It shows that the proportion of elderly people aged 60 and over has increased considerably over the period (1966-2014), from 5.5% in 1966 to 11.4% in 2014, according to the latest figures. In absolute terms, the number of elderly people increased from 249,334 in 1966 to 1,249,640 in 2014.
The evolution is also observable from the point of view of gender and school level. The study shows that women recorded a 4.8% increase between 1984 and 2014 compared to a decrease in the weight of men among the population aged 60 and over, while a distribution of people aged 60 and over according to illiteracy shows that the large proportion of people aged 60 and over is illiterate with a rate of 59%. This rate compared to the last censuses is constantly decreasing (for example, in 1994 it was 84.9%).
Based on the available data, the study developed a projection of the evolution of the number of retirees. Thus, the proportion of retirees among the Tunisian elderly population will show an upward trend, increasing the number of retirees from 581,920 in 2014 to 1,244,559 in 2024. These data will continue to increase in the coming years, according to the study, which warns of the impact of this change in numbers on the financial equilibrium of social security funds and on health care spending, given that several chronic diseases accompany old age.
Among the main areas of the study, an analysis of the main problems of pensioners, such as the lack of retirement preparation as a factor limiting activity after stopping work associated with a fall in income, which, however small, creates difficulties in maintaining a standard of living to which the people concerned are accustomed.
The preparation for retirement is also psychological, the study indicates, the status of retirement is a problem and makes retirement a painful experience that disrupts the normal functioning of the person concerned. In addition to this problem, there are administrative difficulties manifested by the late payment of the retirement pension. There is also a lack of cultural and recreational activities, and neglect by the former workplace.
The study concludes with a series of recommendations aimed at ensuring an active and balanced retirement life, including the development by administrations and companies of pre-retirement preparation programmes, the creation of consultation units (Committees of Wise Men composed of pensioners) that could be consulted to give their opinion in their sectors of activity and the establishment of a mechanism for the design and implementation of socio-cultural programmes for the benefit of pensioners.