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The Revenue Demands of Public Employee Pension Promises

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  • Robert Novy-Marx
  • Joshua D. Rauh
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    Abstract

    We calculate increases in contributions required to achieve full funding of state and local pension systems in the U.S. over 30 years. Without policy changes, contributions would have to increase by 2.5 times, reaching 14.1% of the total own-revenue generated by state and local governments. This represents a tax increase of $1,385 per household per year, around half of which goes to pay down legacy liabilities while half funds the cost of new promises. We examine sensitivity to asset return assumptions, wage correlations, the treatment of workers not currently in Social Security, and endogenous geographical shifts in the tax base.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18489.

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    Date of creation: Oct 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18489

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    1. Bohn, Henning, 2011. "Should public retirement plans be fully funded?," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(02), pages 195-219, April.
    2. Luca Benzoni & Pierre Collin-Dufresne & Robert S. Goldstein, 2007. "Portfolio Choice over the Life-Cycle when the Stock and Labor Markets Are Cointegrated," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(5), pages 2123-2167, October.
    3. Beshears, John & Choi, James J. & Laibson, David I. & Madrian, Brigitte, 2011. "Behavioral Economics Perspective on Public Sector Pension Plans," Scholarly Articles 9647369, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
    4. 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.
    5. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "The Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 551-72, June.
    6. Comprix, Joseph & Muller, Karl A., 2011. "Pension plan accounting estimates and the freezing of defined benefit pension plans," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 115-133.
    7. 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.
    8. Deborah J. Lucas & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2009. "How Should Public Pension Plans Invest?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 527-32, May.
    9. Schieber, Sylvester J., 2011. "Political economy of public sector retirement plans," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(02), pages 269-290, April.
    10. Comprix, Joseph & Muller III, Karl A., 2011. "Pension plan accounting estimates and the freezing of defined benefit pension plans," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1-2), pages 115-133, February.
    11. Pennacchi, George & Rastad, Mahdi, 2011. "Portfolio allocation for public pension funds," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(02), pages 221-245, April.
    12. 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.
    13. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "Effect of Marginal Tax Rates on Taxable Income: A Panel Study of the 1986 Tax Reform Act," Scholarly Articles 2766676, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    14. 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.
    15. Robert Novy‐Marx & Joshua Rauh, 2011. "Public Pension Promises: How Big Are They and What Are They Worth?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 66(4), pages 1211-1249, 08.
    16. 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.
    17. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
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    Cited by:
    1. Zhao, Bo & Coyne, David, 2013. "Walking a tightrope: are U. S. state and local governments on a fiscally sustainable path?," Working Papers, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston 13-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

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