Public pension funding in practice
AbstractPublic pension funding has recently become a front-burner policy issue in the wake of the financial crisis and given the pending retirement of large numbers of baby boomers. This paper examines the current funding of state and local pensions using a sample of 126 plans, estimating an aggregate funded ratio in 2009 of 78 percent. Projections for 2010-2013 suggest that some continued deterioration is likely. Funded status can vary significantly among plans, so the paper explores the influence of four types of factors: funding discipline, plan governance, plan characteristics, and the fiscal situation of the state. Judging the adequacy of funding requires more than just a snapshot of assets and liabilities, so the paper examines how well plans are meeting their Annual Required Contribution and what factors influence whether they make them. The paper also addresses the controversy over what discount rate to use for valuing liabilities, concluding that using a riskless rate of return could help improve funding discipline but would need to be implemented in a manageable way. Finally, the paper assesses whether plans face a near-term liquidity crisis and finds that most have assets on hand to cover benefits over the next 15-20 years. The bottom line is that, like private investors, public plans have been hit hard by the financial crisis and their full recovery is dependent on the rebound of the economy and the stock market.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal Journal of Pension Economics and Finance.
Volume (Year): 10 (2011)
Issue (Month): 02 (April)
Contact details of provider:
Postal: The Edinburgh Building, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge CB2 2RU UK
Fax: +44 (0)1223 325150
Web page: http://journals.cambridge.org/jid_PEFProvider-Email:email@example.com
Other versions of this item:
- H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Jeffrey R. Brown & David W. Wilcox, 2009. "Discounting State and Local Pension Liabilities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 538-42, May.
- Francis M. Vitagliano & Richard W. Kopcke & Zhenya Karamcheva, 2010. "Reducing Costs of 401(k) Plans with ETFs and Commingled Trusts," Issues in Brief ib2010-11, Center for Retirement Research, revised Jul 2010.
- Johnson, R.W., 1995. "Pension Underfunding and Liberal Retirement Benefits Among State and Local Government Workers," Papers 95-04, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
- Coronado, Julie L. & Engen, Eric M. & Knight, Brian, 2003. "Public Funds and Private Capital Markets: The Investment Practices and Performance of State and Local Pension Funds," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 56(3), pages 579-94, September.
- Alicia H. Munnell & Annika Sunden, . "Investment Practices of State and Local Pension Funds: Implications for Social Security Reform," Pension Research Council Working Papers 99-9, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
- Alicia H. Munnell & Jean-Pierre Aubry & Laura Quinby, 2010. "The Funding of State and Local Pensions: 2009-2013," Issues in Brief slp10, Center for Retirement Research, revised Apr 2010.
- Dominique Durant & David Lenze & Marshall Reinsdorf, 2013. "Adding Actuarial Estimates of Defined Benefit Pension Plans to National Accounts," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring Wealth and Financial Intermediation and Their Links to the Real Economy National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jeffrey R. Brown & Robert Clark & Joshua Rauh, 2011. "The Economics of State and Local Public Pensions," NBER Working Papers 16792, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Meijdam, A.C. & Ponds, E.H.M., 2013. "On the Optimal Degree Of Funding Of Public Sector Pension Plans," Discussion Paper 2013-011, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Keith Waters).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.