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Lessons of the Financial Crisis for the Design of National Pension Systems

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  • Gary Burtless

Abstract

The recent financial crisis and the historical record suggest important lessons about the design of national pension systems. First, wide fluctuations in asset returns make it hard for well-informed savers to select a saving rate or a sensible investment strategy for defined-contribution (DC) pensions. Workers who follow identical investment strategies but who retire a few years apart can receive DC pensions that are startlingly unequal. Second, it is hard for ordinary workers, as opposed to optimal planners, to make sensible choices about portfolio allocation. Their investment errors mean that actual returns fall short of the theoretical returns that could be earned by well-informed, disciplined investors. (JEL codes: G01, G11, H55 and J26) Copyright The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Ifo Institute for Economic Research, Munich. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by CESifo in its journal CESifo Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 56 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 323-349

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Handle: RePEc:oup:cesifo:v:56:y:2010:i:3:p:323-349

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  1. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2004. "Plan Design and 401(k) Savings Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 10486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Niko Canner & N. Gregory Mankiw & David N. Weil, 1994. "An Asset Allocation Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 4857, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Shlomo Benartzi, 2001. "Excessive Extrapolation and the Allocation of 401(k) Accounts to Company Stock," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(5), pages 1747-1764, October.
  4. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 2002. "How Much Is Investor Autonomy Worth?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(4), pages 1593-1616, 08.
  5. Bebchuk, Lucian Arye & Fried, Jesse, 2003. "Executive Compensation as an Agency Problem," CEPR Discussion Papers 3961, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Gary Burtless, 2000. "Social Security Privatization and Financial Market Risk: Lessons from U.S. Financial History," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 211, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  7. Bebchuk, Lucian A. & Fried, Jesse M., 2003. "Executive Compensation as an Agency Problem," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt81q3136r, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  8. Alexander, Gordon J. & Jones, Jonathan D. & Nigro, Peter J., 1998. "Mutual fund shareholders: characteristics, investor knowledge, and sources of information," Financial Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 301-316.
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Cited by:
  1. Kumara, Ajantha Sisira & Pfau, Wade Donald, 2011. "Lifecycle and fixed portfolio allocation strategies: a performance comparison for emerging market countries," MPRA Paper 31389, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 10 Jun 2011.
  2. Du Caicai & Muysken Joan & Sleijpen Olaf, 2011. "Lessons from the financial crisis: Funded pension funds should invest conservatively," Research Memorandum 020, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  3. Costa Cabral, Nazare, 2010. "Breve guia temático e bibliográfico sobre o estudo da actual crise financeira e económica
    [Short thematic guide to the study of current financial and economic crisis]
    ," MPRA Paper 20743, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Chen, Yu-Fu & Funke, Michael, 2009. "Booms, Recessions and Financial Turmoil: A Fresh Look at Investment Decisions under Cyclical Uncertainty," SIRE Discussion Papers 2009-31, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
  5. Robert L. Brown, 2010. "Retirement 20/20: Innovation in Pension Design," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 267, McMaster University.

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