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Observations on the Indexation of Old Age Pensions

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  • Lawrence H. Summers

Abstract

This paper examines some positive and normative aspects of the inflation indexation of public and private pensions. The analysis showsthat alternative indexing arrangements may have far less impact on actual patterns of risk bearing than is usually thought to be the case. In so far as inflation indexing has real effects, there is no presumption that they are beneficial. In particular, the pre-commitment aspects of publicindexing may not be efficient. There are sound reasons to believe that voluntarily agreed on, non-indexed private pensions may well be efficient.Non-indexed pensions may result in an efficient allocation of risks given the other assets and liabilities of pension issuers and beneficiaries. In this case, indexation would impede the efficient allocation of risks. In this paper is also developed an ICOLI (interteinporal cost of living index) which is superior to conventional price indices as a way of evaluating the changes in real well being,associated with changes in wealth. The use of this measure has significant implications for the indexation of pensions, and for the question of what assets should be held in pension portfolios.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1023.

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Date of creation: Nov 1982
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Publication status: published as Summers, Lawrence H. "Observations on the Indexation of Old Age Pensions." Financial Aspects of the U.S. Pension System, edited by Zvi Bodie and John B. Shoven. Chicago: UCP, (1983), pp. 231-251 and 257-258.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1023

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  1. Breeden, Douglas T., 1979. "An intertemporal asset pricing model with stochastic consumption and investment opportunities," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 265-296, September.
  2. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
  3. Zvi Bodie, 1982. "Investment Strategy in an Inflationary Environment," NBER Working Papers 0701, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Merton, Robert C, 1973. "An Intertemporal Capital Asset Pricing Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(5), pages 867-87, September.
  5. Pesando, James E, 1975. "A Note on the Rationality of the Livingston Price Expectations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(4), pages 849-58, August.
  6. Michael D. Hurd & John B. Shoven, 1982. "The Economic Status of the Elderly," NBER Working Papers 0914, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Robert C. Merton & Zvi Bodie & Alan Marcus, 1987. "Pension Plan Integration As Insurance Against Social Security Risk," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in Pension Economics, pages 147-172 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Bradford, D.F., 1989. "Market Value Us. Financial Accounting Measures Of National Saving," Papers 34, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  3. Alan L. Gustman & Olivia S. Mitchell & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1993. "The Role of Pensions in the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 4295, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Sickles, Robin C & Taubman, Paul, 1986. "An Analysis of the Health and Retirement Status of the Elderly," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(6), pages 1339-56, November.
  5. Jacob A. Bikker & Peter J.G. Vlaar, 2006. "Conditional Indexation in Defined Benefit Pension Plans," DNB Working Papers 086, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.

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