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Discounting pension liabilities: funding versus value

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  • BROWN, JEFFREY R.
  • PENNACCHI, GEORGE G.

Abstract

We argue that the appropriate discount rate for pension liabilities depends on the objective. In particular, if the objective is to measure pension under- or over- funding, a default-free discount rate should always be used, even if the liabilities are themselves not default-free. If, instead, the objective is to determine the market value of pension benefits, then it is appropriate that discount rates incorporate default risk. We also discuss the choice of a default-free discount rate. Finally, we show how cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) that are common in public pensions can be accounted for and valued in this framework.
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Suggested Citation

  • Brown, Jeffrey R. & Pennacchi, George G., 2016. "Discounting pension liabilities: funding versus value," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(03), pages 254-284, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jpenef:v:15:y:2016:i:03:p:254-284_00
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Vasicek, Oldrich, 1977. "An equilibrium characterization of the term structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 177-188, November.
    2. Merton, Robert C, 1974. "On the Pricing of Corporate Debt: The Risk Structure of Interest Rates," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 29(2), pages 449-470, May.
    3. Joseph Haubrich & George Pennacchi & Peter Ritchken, 2012. "Inflation Expectations, Real Rates, and Risk Premia: Evidence from Inflation Swaps," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 25(5), pages 1588-1629.
    4. Ang, Andrew & Bekaert, Geert & Wei, Min, 2007. "Do macro variables, asset markets, or surveys forecast inflation better?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 1163-1212, May.
    5. 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, August.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Landon, Stuart & Smith, Constance, 2018. "Does a Discount Rate Rule Ensure a Pension Plan Can Pay Promised Benefits without Excessive Asset Accumulation?," Working Papers 2018-1, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:8:p:2832-:d:162929 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:jimfin:v:84:y:2018:i:c:p:23-41 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Carlos Vidal-Meliá & Manuel Ventura-Marco & Juan Manuel Pérez-Salamero González, 2018. "Actuarial accounting for a notional defined contribution scheme combining retirement and longterm care benefits," Documentos de Trabajo del ICAE 2018-16, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales, Instituto Complutense de Análisis Económico.
    5. Jeffrey R. Brown & Richard F. Dye, 2015. "Illinois Pensions in a Fiscal Context: A (Basket) Case Study," NBER Working Papers 21293, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Klinger, Sven & Lando, David, 2018. "Safe Haven CDS Premiums," CEPR Discussion Papers 12694, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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