Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Cost shifting and the freezing of corporate pension plans

Contents:

Author Info

  • Joshua Rauh
  • Irina Stefanescu
  • Stephen Zeldes
Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    Many U.S. corporations have frozen defined benefit (DB) pension plans, replacing new DB promises with contributions to defined contribution (DC) plans. We estimate expected DB accruals from the age-service and salary distributions of a large sample of U.S. corporate pension plans with more than 1,000 employees. Comparing the counterfactual DB accruals to the actual increase in 401(k) and other DC contributions for firms that freeze, we find only partial compensation to employees for the lost DB accruals. Net of the increase in total DC contributions, firms save 2.7-3.6% of payroll per year, and over a 10-year horizon they save 3.1% of total firm assets. Workers would have to value the structure, choice, flexibility, or portability of DC plans by at least this much more to experience welfare gains from freezes. The forgone accruals and net cost effects are initially largest for older employees but over time become largest for middle-aged employees who plan to stay with the firms until retirement. Furthermore, the probability that a firm freezes a pension plan is positively related to the value of new accruals as a share of firm assets. While there are differences in the age-service distributions of firms that freeze versus those that do not, we find that the differential accrual effect is largely driven by differences in benefit factors and the relative importance of labor in the freeze firm's production function. The results overall support the hypothesis that pension freezes affect overall compensation and therefore that they change compensation costs relative to a worker's marginal product.

    Download Info

    If 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.
    File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2013/201382/201382abs.html
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2013/201382/201382pap.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    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 2013-82.

    as in new window
    Length:
    Date of creation: 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2013-82

    Contact details of provider:
    Postal: 20th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20551
    Web page: http://www.federalreserve.gov/
    More information through EDIRC

    Order Information:
    Web: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/fedsorder.html

    Related research

    Keywords:

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    References

    References listed on IDEAS
    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.:
    as in new window
    1. Andrew A. Samwick & Jonathan Skinner, 2004. "How Will 401(k) Pension Plans Affect Retirement Income?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 329-343, March.
    2. 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.
    3. Olivia S. Mitchell & Gary S. Fields, 1983. "The Economics of Retirement Behavior," NBER Working Papers 1128, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Edward P. Lazear & Robert L. Moore, 1988. "Pensions and Turnover," NBER Chapters, in: Pensions in the U.S. Economy, pages 163-190 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Friedberg Leora & Owyang Michael T & Sinclair Tara M, 2006. "Searching For Better Prospects: Endogenizing Falling Job Tenure and Private Pension Coverage," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-42, August.
    6. Tepper, Irwin, 1981. "Taxation and Corporate Pension Policy," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 36(1), pages 1-13, March.
    7. Irwin Tepper, 1981. "Taxation and Corporate Pension Policy," NBER Working Papers 0661, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Petersen, Mitchell A, 1992. "Pension Reversions and Worker-Stockholder Wealth Transfers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 1033-56, August.
    9. James Poterba & Joshua Rauh & Steven Venti & David Wise, 2006. "Defined Contribution Plans, Defined Benefit Plans, and the Accumulation of Retirement Wealth," NBER Working Papers 12597, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
    11. Daniel Bergstresser & Mihir Desai & Joshua Rauh, 2006. "Earnings Manipulation, Pension Assumptions, and Managerial Investment Decisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(1), pages 157-195, 02.
    12. Joshua D. Rauh, 2006. "Investment and Financing Constraints: Evidence from the Funding of Corporate Pension Plans," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(1), pages 33-71, 02.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Lists

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2013-82. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Kris Vajs).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.