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Are firms or workers behind the shift away from DB pension plan?

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  • Stephanie Aaronson
  • Julia Coronado
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    Abstract

    One of the most striking changes in the composition of household retirement savings over the past 20 years has been the shift from defined benefit to defined contribution pension plans. Understanding the factors underlying this shift is important for determining its impact on retirement saving adequacy. Yet previous research, which has mostly focused on factors affecting all firms, such as regulation or increased longevity, has yielded little consensus. In this study we estimate the contribution of changing workforce characteristics and production environments to the shift in pension coverage. Our findings suggest that, while aggregate factors explain a large part of the movement, changes in worker demand, due to evolving workforce characteristics, also contributed notably. On the supply side, we find support for the theory that technical change has reduced the value of DB plans. These supply and demand factors are particularly important for explaining the significant variation in cross-industry trends in pension coverage.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2005-17.

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    Date of creation: 2005
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2005-17

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    Keywords: Retirement income ; Defined benefit pension plans ; Defined contribution pension plans;

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    1. Coronado, Julia Lynn & Copeland, Philip C., 2004. "Cash balance pension plan conversions and the new economy," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(03), pages 297-314, November.
    2. Leslie E. Papke & Mitchell A. Petersen & James M. Poterba, 1996. "Do 401(k) Plans Replace Other Employer-Provided Pensions?," NBER Chapters, in: Advances in the Economics of Aging, pages 219-240 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Marianne Bertrand, 1999. "From the Invisible Handshake to the Invisible Hand? How Import Competition Changes the Employment Relationship," NBER Working Papers 6900, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. John M. Abowd & Paul A. Lengermann & Kevin L. McKinney, 2002. "The Measurement of Human Capital in the U.S. Economy," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-09, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau, revised Mar 2003.
    5. David Neumark, 2000. "Changes in Job Stability and Job Security: A Collective Effort to Untangle, Reconcile, and Interpret the Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7472, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:
    1. Leora Friedberg & Michael T. Owyang, 2004. "Explaining the evolution of pension structure and job tenure," Working Papers 2002-022, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    2. Broeders, Dirk & Chen, An, 2010. "Pension regulation and the market value of pension liabilities: A contingent claims analysis using Parisian options," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 1201-1214, June.
    3. Alicia H. Munnell & Kelly Haverstick & Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, 2006. "Job Tenure and Pension Coverage," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2006-18, Center for Retirement Research, revised Oct 2006.

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