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Underfunding of Defined Benefit Pension Plans and Benefit Guarantee Insurance: An Overview of Theory and Evidence


  • Mario Jametti


I review the theoretical literature on defined-benefit pension plans, particularly focusing on the issue of plan underfunding and benefit guarantee insurance schemes. Under reasonable assumptions underfunding can be an equilibrium outcome even in the absence of benefit insurance. The introduction of benefit guarantee funds was a reaction to the problem of underfunding, and I summarize the ensuing problems of moral hazard and adverse selection. I then discuss the still rather small body of empirical research on the subject and propose directions for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Mario Jametti, 2008. "Underfunding of Defined Benefit Pension Plans and Benefit Guarantee Insurance: An Overview of Theory and Evidence," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 34(s1), pages 39-46, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:34:y:2008:i:s1:p:39-46

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cooper, Russell W. & Ross, Thomas W., 2001. "Pensions: theories of underfunding," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(6), pages 667-689, December.
    2. Niehaus, Gregory R., 1990. "The PBGC's flat fee schedule, moral hazard, and promised pension benefits," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 55-68, March.
    3. Jeffrey R. Brown, 2008. "Guaranteed Trouble: The Economic Effects of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 177-198, Winter.
    4. David W. Wilcox, 2006. "Reforming the Defined-Benefit Pension System," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 37(1), pages 235-304.
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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas Crossley & Mario Jametti, 2013. "Pension Benefit Insurance and Pension Plan Portfolio Choice," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 337-341, March.

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