Shrouded Costs of Government: Political Economy of State and Local Public Pensions Data
AbstractWhy do public-sector workers receive so much of their compensation in the form of pensions and other benefits? This paper presents a political economy model in which politicians compete for taxpayers' �and government employees' votes by promising compensation packages, but some voters cannot evaluate every aspect of promised compensation. If pension packages are "shrouded," so that public-sector workers better understand their value than ordinary taxpayers, then compensation will be highly back-loaded. In equilibrium, the welfare of public-sector workers could be improved, holding total public-sector costs constant, if they received higher wages and lower pensions. Centralizing pension determination has two off-setting effects on generosity: more state-level media attention helps taxpayers better understand pension costs, and that reduces pension generosity; but a larger share of public-sector workers will vote within the jurisdiction, which increases pension generosity. A short discussion of pensions in two decentralized states (California and Pennsylvania) and two centralized states (Massachusetts and Ohio) suggests that centralization appears to have modestly reduced pensions, but, as the model suggests, this is unlikely to be universal.
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 InfoPaper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 660.
Date of creation: Jun 2013
Date of revision:
public pensions; state and local government; imperfect information; elections; public sector unions;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
- D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search, Learning, and Information
- H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
- H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-AGE-2012-10-13 (Economics of Ageing)
- NEP-ALL-2012-10-13 (All new papers)
- NEP-POL-2012-10-13 (Positive Political Economics)
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.:
- Giacomo Ponzetto, 2011.
"Heterogeneous Information and Trade Policy,"
596, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
- Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto, 2011. "Heterogeneous Information and Trade Policy," 2011 Meeting Papers 189, Society for Economic Dynamics.
- Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto, 2008. "Heterogeneous information and trade policy," Economics Working Papers 1296, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Dec 2011.
- Ponzetto, Giacomo AM, 2011. "Heterogeneous Information and Trade Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 8726, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2006.
"Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 505-540, May.
- Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2005. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," NBER Working Papers 11755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Gabaix, Xavier & Laibson, David I., 2006. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," Scholarly Articles 4554333, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Edward L. Glaeser & Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2004.
"Strategic Extremism: Why Republicans and Democrats Divide on Religious Values,"
NBER Working Papers
10835, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Edward L. Glaeser & Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2005. "Strategic Extremism: Why Republicans and Democrats Divide on Religious Values," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1283-1330, November.
- Edward L. Glaeser & Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2004. "Strategic Extremism: Why Republicans and Democrats Divide on Religious Values," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2044, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Leeds, Michael A., 1985. "Property values and pension underfunding in the local public sector," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 34-46, July.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Bruno Guallar).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.