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Paying into a pension scheme is compulsory in France and contributions paid into the pension scheme are paid out nearly straight away to fund the benefits of those already retired. French people have to save for their retirement through a compulsory industry wide pension scheme.
This is a Pay as you go pension Scheme and it has been adopted in many parts of the world.
In France the many compulsory pension schemes have gradually consolidated over time so that now most of them are federated to one of two main organisations, called ARRCO and AGIRC who handle the pension funds. The reason these two large groups have developed is that they are seen as being more secure because their members cover a wide inter-generational range of ages.
This is a similar system to the State retirement benefits Pension Scheme in the UK, where contributions are made by people of all ages across the spectrum of those at work. The theory behind this is if things go well, there should be no need to have a funded pool of money.