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Do Markets Like Frozen Defined Benefit Pensions? An Event Study


  • Moshe A. Milevsky
  • Keke Song


An increasing number of North American companies are freezing or terminating their traditional defined benefit (DB) pension plans. In this article we document a positive announcement effect when a publicly traded company discloses that it has partially or fully frozen its DB plan and replaced it with—or enhanced—the 401(k) defined contribution (DC) plan. This positive risk‐adjusted return is greater for firms with higher beta and/or lower return on equity (ROE) prior to the freeze. In other words the positive impact is more pronounced for firms that are likely to face financial distress if they maintain their traditional pension plan and the associated long‐term promises.

Suggested Citation

  • Moshe A. Milevsky & Keke Song, 2010. "Do Markets Like Frozen Defined Benefit Pensions? An Event Study," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 77(4), pages 893-909, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jrinsu:v:77:y:2010:i:4:p:893-909
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1539-6975.2010.01363.x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kazuo Yoshida & Yutaka Horiba, 2003. "Japanese Corporate Pension Plans and the Impact on Stock Prices," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 70(2), pages 249-268, June.
    2. Adair Turner, 2006. "Pensions, Risks, and Capital Markets," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 73(4), pages 559-574, December.
    3. Greg Niehaus & Tong Yu, 2005. "Cash‐Balance Plan Conversions: Evidence on Excise Taxes and Implicit Contracts," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 72(2), pages 321-352, June.
    4. Jeremy I. Bulow, 1982. "What are Corporate Pension Liabilities?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(3), pages 435-452.
    5. Sharpe, William F., 1976. "Corporate pension funding policy," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 183-193, June.
    6. David Blake & Pat Brockett & Samuel Cox & Richard MacMinn, 2011. "Longevity Risk and Capital Markets," North American Actuarial Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(2), pages 141-149.
    7. Moshe A. Milevsky & S. David Promislow, 2004. "Florida's Pension Election: From DB to DC and Back," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 71(3), pages 381-404, September.
    8. Joshua D. Rauh, 2009. "Risk Shifting versus Risk Management: Investment Policy in Corporate Pension Plans," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(7), pages 2487-2533, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rauh, Joshua D. & Stefanescu, Irina & Zeldes, Stephen P., 2020. "Cost saving and the freezing of corporate pension plans," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 188(C).
    2. Kun Yu, 2016. "Excess of the PBO over the ABO and hard pension freezes," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 46(4), pages 819-846, May.
    3. Vafeas, Nikos & Vlittis, Adamos, 2018. "Independent directors and defined benefit pension plan freezes," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 505-518.
    4. Joshua D. Rauh & Irina Stefanescu & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2020. "Cost Saving and the Freezing of Corporate Pension Plans," NBER Working Papers 27251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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