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Administrative Costs in Public and Private Retirement Systems

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  • Olivia S. Mitchell

Abstract

This paper collects and analyzes available information on administrative costs associated with public and private retirement systems. We explore expenses of the US social security system and compare these with data from national systems in other countries. We find that administration costs of publicly-run social security systems vary a great deal across countries and institutional settings. A key factor influencing public old-age program costs is the system's scale: plans with more assets and more participants are less expensive. We also investigate expenses reported by US pension plans and mutual funds, programs seen by many as alternative mechanisms for managing retirement saving. Based on an analysis of costs associated with retirement savings plans managed by financial institutions, we conclude that privately managed old-age retirement programs would be somewhat more costly to operate than current publicly-managed programs, depending on the program's specific design. Nevertheless these costs would be accompanied by new services for participants.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania in its series Pension Research Council Working Papers with number 96-4.

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Publication status: Published in Privatizing Social Security, Martin Feldstein, ed. The University of Chicago Press, 1998: 403-456.
Handle: RePEc:wop:pennpr:96-4

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Postal: The Wharton School, 3641 Locust Walk, 304 CPC, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6218
Phone: 215-898-7620
Fax: 215-898-0310
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Web page: http://www.pensionresearchcouncil.org/
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References

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  1. Ping-Lung Hsin & Olivia S. Mitchell, . "The Political Economy of Public Pensions: Pension Funding, Governance, and Fiscal Stress," Pension Research Council Working Papers 94-6, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  2. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1993. "Retirement Systems in Developed and Developing Countries: Institutional Features, Economic Effects, and Lessons for Economies in Transition," NBER Working Papers 4424, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Lakonishok, Joseph & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1992. "The Structure and Performance of the Money Management Industry," Scholarly Articles 10498059, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1991. "Trends in Pension Benefit Formulas and Retirement Provisions," NBER Working Papers 3744, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Barr, Nicholas, 1992. "Economic Theory and the Welfare State: A Survey and Interpretation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 741-803, June.
  6. Atkinson, A.B., 1987. "Income maintenance and social insurance," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 13, pages 779-908 Elsevier.
  7. Stephen Mehay & Rodolfo Gonzalez, 1985. "Economic incentives under contract supply of local government services," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 46(1), pages 79-86, January.
  8. Gordon Goodfellow & Sylvester J. Schieber, . "Investment of Assets in Self-Directed Retirement Plans."," Pension Research Council Working Papers 95-6, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  9. Friedman, Benjamin M & Warshawsky, Mark J, 1990. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 135-54, February.
  10. Benjamin M. Friedman & Mark Warshawsky, 1985. "The Cost of Annuities: Implications for Saving Behavior and Bequests," NBER Working Papers 1682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Valdes-Prieto, Salvador, 1994. "Administrative charges in pensions in Chile, Malaysia, Zambia, and the United States," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1372, The World Bank.
  12. Elton, Edwin J, et al, 1993. "Efficiency with Costly Information: A Reinterpretation of Evidence from Managed Portfolios," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 6(1), pages 1-22.
  13. Olivia S. Mitchell & Ping Lung Hsin, 1994. "Public Sector Pension Governance and Performance," NBER Working Papers 4632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Nicholas Barr, 1992. "Economic theory and the welfare state : a survey and interpretation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 279, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  15. Gardner, Lisa A. & Grace, Martin F., 1993. "X-Efficiency in the US life insurance industry," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(2-3), pages 497-510, April.
  16. Olivia S. Mitchell & Robert S. Smith, . "Public Sector Pension Funding," Pension Research Council Working Papers 94-4, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
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