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Administrative Costs in Public and Private Retirement Systems

In: Privatizing Social Security

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  • Olivia S. Mitchell

Abstract

This paper collects and analyzes available information on administrative costs associated with public and private retirement systems. We explore expenses of the US social security system and compare these with data from national systems in other countries. We find that administration costs of publicly-run social security systems vary a great deal across countries and institutional settings. A key factor influencing public old-age program costs is the system's scale: plans with more assets and more participants are less expensive. We also investigate expenses reported by US pension plans and mutual funds, programs seen by many as alternative mechanisms for managing retirement saving. Based on an analysis of costs associated with retirement savings plans managed by financial institutions, we conclude that privately managed old-age retirement programs would be somewhat more costly to operate than current publicly-managed programs, depending on the program's specific design. Nevertheless these costs would be accompanied by new services for participants.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Martin Feldstein, 1998. "Privatizing Social Security," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feld98-1, May.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 6255.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:6255

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    1. Valdes-Prieto, Salvador, 1994. "Administrative charges in pensions in Chile, Malaysia, Zambia, and the United States," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1372, The World Bank.
    2. Nicholas Barr, 1992. "Economic theory and the welfare state : a survey and interpretation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 279, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1993. "Retirement Systems in Developed and Developing Countries: Institutional Features, Economic Effects, and Lessons for Economies in Transition," NBER Working Papers 4424, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Elton, Edwin J, et al, 1993. "Efficiency with Costly Information: A Reinterpretation of Evidence from Managed Portfolios," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 6(1), pages 1-22.
    5. Barr, Nicholas, 1992. "Economic Theory and the Welfare State: A Survey and Interpretation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 741-803, June.
    6. Olivia S. Mitchell & Robert S. Smith, . "Public Sector Pension Funding," Pension Research Council Working Papers 94-4, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
    7. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark Warshawsky, 1985. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," NBER Working Papers 1682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Gordon Goodfellow & Sylvester J. Schieber, . "Investment of Assets in Self-Directed Retirement Plans."," Pension Research Council Working Papers 95-6, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
    9. Lakonishok, Joseph & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1992. "The Structure and Performance of the Money Management Industry," Scholarly Articles 10498059, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    10. Gardner, Lisa A. & Grace, Martin F., 1993. "X-Efficiency in the US life insurance industry," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(2-3), pages 497-510, April.
    11. Olivia S. Mitchell & Ping Lung Hsin, 1994. "Public Sector Pension Governance and Performance," NBER Working Papers 4632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Ping-Lung Hsin & Olivia S. Mitchell, . "The Political Economy of Public Pensions: Pension Funding, Governance, and Fiscal Stress," Pension Research Council Working Papers 94-6, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
    13. Friedman, Benjamin M & Warshawsky, Mark J, 1990. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 135-54, February.
    14. Stephen Mehay & Rodolfo Gonzalez, 1985. "Economic incentives under contract supply of local government services," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 79-86, January.
    15. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1991. "Trends in Pension Benefit Formulas and Retirement Provisions," NBER Working Papers 3744, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Atkinson, A.B., 1987. "Income maintenance and social insurance," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 13, pages 779-908 Elsevier.
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