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Protecting underfunded pensions: the role of guarantee funds


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Employer-related pensions are a common and extremely important component of the compensation paid to workers in both the public and private sectors of developed economies. Many private pensions are insufficiently funded, exposing workers to the risk of a loss should their employer cease operations and not be available to meet pension obligations.In this paper we study the role of guarantee funds as providers of insurance to workers against the failure of firms with underfunded defined benefit pension plans. Employing a model that predicts pension underfunding, we consider first how private guarantee funds might operate and then explore some potential advantages of public funds.Overall, we do find that both public and private funds provide insurance benefits. However, private guarantee funds requiring ex ante premia payments may be infeasible in the presence of capital market imperfections, and funds which rely upon ex post contributions may suffer from strategic uncertainty. A public fund can overcome this coordination problem. However, a public fund, such as that administered by the US Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, may lead to: (i) greater underfunding of pensions, (ii) distortions in the market participation decisions of firms and (iii) the inclusion of excessively risky assets in the pension portfolio. In some cases, a guarantee fund is not welfare improving.

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal Journal of Pension Economics and Finance.

Volume (Year): 2 (2003)
Issue (Month): 03 (November)
Pages: 247-272

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jpenef:v:2:y:2003:i:03:p:247-272_00

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Cited by:
  1. Mario Jametti, 2007. "Underfunding of Defined Benefit Pension Plans and Benefit Guarantee Insurance - An Overview of Theory and Empirics," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 200, McMaster University.
  2. Thomas Crossley & Mario Jametti, 2013. "Pension Benefit Insurance and Pension Plan Portfolio Choice," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 337-341, March.
  3. Sule Sahin & Adem Yavuz Elveren, 2009. "A Cost Analysis of a Minimum Pension Guarantee for the Individual Pension System in Turkey," Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, University of Utah 2009_13, University of Utah, Department of Economics.


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