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Post-Retirement Increases in Pensions in the 1980s: Did Plan Finances Matter?


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  • Steven G. Allen
  • Robert L. Clark
  • Ann A. McDermed


Many firms give post-retirement increases in pension benefits to retirees even though the pension contract does not require such increases. A leading explanation of this behavior is that benefit increases are part of an implicit contract where retirees accept lower initial benefits in return for the option of receiving a share of the plan's financial returns above the risk-free rate. The paper reports mixed evidence on the linkage between the financial performance of pension plans and post-retirement increases. Between 1980 and 1985, benefit increases were larger in plans with high funding ratios and lofty rates of return. However, the practice of giving post-retirement increases became much less widespread in the 1980s, despite dramatically improved financial performances across all pension plans.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4413.

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Date of creation: Aug 1993
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Research on Aging, Vol. 17, no. 2, June 1995, pp. 190-208.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4413

Note: AG LS
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Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Andrei Shleifer & Lawrence H. Summers, 1988. "Breach of Trust in Hostile Takeovers," NBER Chapters, in: Corporate Takeovers: Causes and Consequences, pages 33-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1991. "Pension COLAs," NBER Working Papers 3908, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Alan J. Auerbach, 1988. "Corporate Takeovers: Causes and Consequences," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number auer88-1, October.
  4. Pesando, James E, 1984. "Employee Evaluation of Pension Claims and the Impact of Indexing Initiatives," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, Western Economic Association International, vol. 22(1), pages 1-17, January.
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