Jean-Paul, 67 years old, is leaving this morning to meet his colleagues from the association that helps people in difficulty. Like a quarter of retirees his age, he became involved five years ago when he had more time for others, following his retirement.
In France, people over 65 have traditionally been active members of various associations and organizations. According to INSEE, in 2017, they represented nearly a quarter (23%) of all volunteers in France.
However, according to an IFOP study conducted for Recherches et Solidarités in 2023, there has been a sharp decline in the level of commitment of seniors over 65 for the past fifteen years. It has dropped from 38% in 2010 to 25% in 2023. The decline has even accelerated since 2019 with a 6-point drop in 4 years. How can this sharp decline be explained?
The change in generations is one of the main reasons that can explain this decline. Indeed, the seniors who were over 65 in 2010 were part of the Silent Generation. Born before the war of 1945, they were confronted in their youth, before and during the war, with unprecedented solidarity movements that marked them for life. They have therefore always been very involved and committed to associations. However, having passed the age of 75, they have been released from their commitments and responsibilities for about ten years.
A new generation, the Baby Boomers, born after the war, has taken over in the last 10 years. These young retirees devote less time to associations because they want to devote themselves to personal activities, travel more, while also taking care of their grandchildren and aging parents. With a 25% rate of involvement in associations, the over-65s are now surpassed by the 25-34 year olds at 27%. The participation trend for future retirees is not favorable either and there is reason to fear a continued decline in senior involvement. Indeed, in 2013, the 50-64 year olds (the 65 and over of today) had a participation rate of 22%, very close to the one they have today, while the participation of the 50-64 year olds is only 19% today, down by 3 points. As for the youngest, they were not involved ten years ago (16%, i.e., -22 points compared to those 65 and older), but since 2019 there has been a strong increase in their involvement in associations (+3 points between 2019 and 2023). Their increasing level of commitment can be explained in part by the fact that they are moving forward in an uncertain world but also the health crisis that has isolated them.
Women, traditionally somewhat less engaged than men, now have a similar level of engagement even though the Covid period led to a sharp decline in female engagement.
With 14% attendance each week in 2023, the over-65s still spend the most time in associations, but again there is a sharp decline of 4.4 points compared to 2019.
If the commitment of Baby Boomers in associations in France is a source of concern for the life of multiple associations, the increase in the level of commitment of younger people is a positive trend.
Sources: IFOP study conducted for Recherches et Solidarités, Les Français et le bénévolat en 2023