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

Should Public Retirement Plans be Fully Funded?

Contents:

Author Info

  • Henning Bohn

Abstract

Most state and local retirement plans strive for full funding, at least by actuarial standards. Funding measured at market values fluctuates and often falls short. A common argument for full funding is that pensions are a form of deferred compensation that does not justify a debt. The paper examines public finance, political economy, and financial market issues that bear on optimal funding, broadly and in a series of models. In a model where most taxpayers hold debt and face intermediation costs, returns on pension assets are less than taxpayers’ cost of borrowing. Pension funding is costly and hence zero funding is optimal. The model also implies that unfunded pension promises are properly discounted at a rate strictly greater than the government’s borrowing rate. If pension funds serve as collateral, funding can be warranted despite the cost. This is shown in a model with legal ambiguity and default risk. Except in special cases, the optimal funding ratio is less than full funding.

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.nber.org/papers/w16409.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16409.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Pension Economics and Finance (2011), 10: 195-219 Cambridge University Press 2011
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16409

Note: PE
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Email:
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

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. repec:fth:calaec:4-98 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Robert J. Barro & José F. Ursúa, 2009. "Stock-Market Crashes and Depressions," NBER Working Papers 14760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
  4. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1995. "The Political Economy of Budget Deficits," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 42(1), pages 1-31, March.
  5. Henning Bohn, 1999. "Online Appendix to Should the Social Security Trust Fund hold Equities? An Intergenerational Welfare Analysis," Technical Appendices bohn99, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  6. Friedberg, Leora, 2011. "Labor market aspects of state and local retirement plans: a review of evidence and a blueprint for future research," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(02), pages 337-361, April.
  7. Baxter, Marianne & Jermann, Urban J, 1997. "The International Diversification Puzzle Is Worse Than You Think," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 170-80, March.
  8. Robert Novy-Marx & Joshua D. Rauh, 2009. "The Liabilities and Risks of State-Sponsored Pension Plans," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 191-210, Fall.
  9. Jeffrey R. Brown & David W. Wilcox, 2009. "Discounting State and Local Pension Liabilities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 538-42, May.
  10. Bulow, Jeremy I, 1982. "What Are Corporate Pension Liabilities?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(3), pages 435-52, August.
  11. Dennis Epple & Katherine Schipper, 1981. "Municipal pension funding: A theory and some evidence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 37(1), pages 141-178, January.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Robert Novy-Marx & Joshua D. Rauh, 2012. "Fiscal Imbalances and Borrowing Costs: Evidence from State Investment Losses," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 182-213, May.
  2. Triest, Robert K. & Zhao, Bo, 2013. "The role of economic, fiscal, and financial shocks in the evolution of public sector pension funding," Working Papers 13-26, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  3. Ponds, E.H.M. & Severinson, C. & Yermo, J., 2012. "Implicit debt in public sector plans: An international comparison," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-5452874, Tilburg University.
  4. Robert Novy-Marx & Joshua D. Rauh, 2012. "The Revenue Demands of Public Employee Pension Promises," NBER Working Papers 18489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Dashle Kelley, 2014. "The political economy of unfunded public pension liabilities," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 158(1), pages 21-38, January.
  6. Meijdam, A.C. & Ponds, E.H.M., 2013. "On the Optimal Degree Of Funding Of Public Sector Pension Plans," Discussion Paper 2013-011, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.

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:nbr:nberwo:16409. 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: ().

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.