IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/jbfina/v40y2014icp403-419.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

An analysis of risk-taking behavior for public defined benefit pension plans

Author

Listed:
  • Mohan, Nancy
  • Zhang, Ting

Abstract

This paper presents the first comprehensive study on the determinants of public pension fund investment risk and reports several new important findings. Unlike private pension plans, public funds undertake more risk if they are underfunded and have lower investment returns in the previous years, consistent with the risk transfer hypothesis. Furthermore, pension funds in states facing fiscal constraints allocate more assets to equity and have higher betas. There also appears to be a herding effect in that CalPERS equity allocation or beta is mimicked by other pension funds. Finally, our results suggest that government accounting standards strongly affect pension fund risk, as higher return assumptions (used to discount pension liabilities) are associated with higher equity allocation and portfolio beta.

Suggested Citation

  • Mohan, Nancy & Zhang, Ting, 2014. "An analysis of risk-taking behavior for public defined benefit pension plans," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 403-419.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbfina:v:40:y:2014:i:c:p:403-419
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jbankfin.2013.12.011
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378426613004834
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jacob A. Bikker & Dirk W. G. A. Broeders & David A. Hollanders & Eduard H. M. Ponds, 2012. "Pension Funds’ Asset Allocation and Participant Age: A Test of the Life-Cycle Model," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 79(3), pages 595-618, September.
    2. Eaton, Tim V. & Nofsinger, John R., 2004. "The effect of financial constraints and political pressure on the management of public pension plans," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 161-189.
    3. Dwyer, Peggy D. & Gilkeson, James H. & List, John A., 2002. "Gender differences in revealed risk taking: evidence from mutual fund investors," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 151-158, July.
    4. Mitchell, Olivia S & Smith, Robert S, 1994. "Pension Funding in the Public Sector," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 278-290, May.
    5. Robert Novy-Marx & Joshua D. Rauh, 2009. "The Liabilities and Risks of State-Sponsored Pension Plans," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 191-210, Fall.
    6. Dennis Epple & Katherine Schipper, 1981. "Municipal pension funding: A theory and some evidence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 37(1), pages 141-178, January.
    7. Hwang Min & Quigley John M. & Woodward Susan E., 2005. "An Index For Venture Capital, 1987-2003," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-45, November.
    8. Steven N. Kaplan & Antoinette Schoar, 2005. "Private Equity Performance: Returns, Persistence, and Capital Flows," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(4), pages 1791-1823, August.
    9. Giertz, J. Fred & Papke, Leslie E., 2007. "Public Pension Plans: Myths and Realities for State Budgets," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 60(2), pages 305-323, June.
    10. Rauh, Joshua D., 2010. "Are State Public Pensions Sustainable? Why the Federal Government Should Worry About State Pension Liabilities," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 63(3), pages 585-601, September.
    11. Bodie, Zvi & Merton, Robert C. & Samuelson, William F., 1992. "Labor supply flexibility and portfolio choice in a life cycle model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 16(3-4), pages 427-449.
    12. Richard B. Freeman, 1985. "Unions, Pensions, and Union Pension Funds," NBER Chapters, in: Pensions, Labor, and Individual Choice, pages 89-122, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Jeffrey R. Brown & David W. Wilcox, 2009. "Discounting State and Local Pension Liabilities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 538-542, May.
    14. 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.
    15. Aggarwal, Raj & Goodell, John W., 2013. "Political-economy of pension plans: Impact of institutions, gender, and culture," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1860-1879.
    16. Ippolito, Richard A, 1985. "The Economic Function of Underfunded Pension Plans," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(3), pages 611-651, October.
    17. Weller, Christian E. & Wenger, Jeffrey B., 2009. "Prudent investors: the asset allocation of public pension plans," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(4), pages 501-525, October.
    18. 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.
    19. Jin, Li & Merton, Robert C. & Bodie, Zvi, 2006. "Do a firm's equity returns reflect the risk of its pension plan?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 1-26, July.
    20. Coronado, Julie L. & Engen, Eric M. & Knight, Brian, 2003. "Public Funds and Private Capital Markets: The Investment Practices and Performance of State and Local Pension Funds," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 56(3), pages 579-594, September.
    21. Inman, Robert P., 1982. "Public employee pensions and the local labor budget," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 49-71, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Andreas Hoepner & Lisa Schopohl, 2015. "Red versus Blue: Do Political Dimensions Influence the Investment Preferences of State Pension Funds?," ICMA Centre Discussion Papers in Finance icma-dp2015-06, Henley Business School, Reading University.
    2. Boon, L.N. & Brière, M. & Rigot, S., 2018. "Regulation and pension fund risk-taking," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 23-41.
    3. Timothy C. Irwin, 2015. "Defining The Government'S Debt And Deficit," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(4), pages 711-732, September.
    4. Kenechukwu E. Anadu & James Bohn & Lina Lu & Matthew Pritsker & Andrei Zlate, 2019. "Reach for Yield by U.S. Public Pension Funds," Supervisory Research and Analysis Working Papers RPA 19-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, revised 06 Jun 2019.
    5. James R. Barth & Sunghoon Joo & Kang Bok Lee, 2018. "Another look at the determinants of the financial condition of state pension plans," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 42(3), pages 421-450, July.
    6. Christian Dippel, 2019. "Political Parties Do Matter in U.S. Cities ... For Their Unfunded Pensions," NBER Working Papers 25601, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Boubaker, Sabri & Gounopoulos, Dimitrios & Nguyen, Duc Khuong & Paltalidis, Nikos, 2017. "Assessing the effects of unconventional monetary policy and low interest rates on pension fund risk incentives," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 35-52.
    8. repec:mth:ijafr8:v:9:y:2019:i:1:p:366-378 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Martin Boyer & Franca Glenzer, 2016. "Pensions, annuities, and long-term care insurance: On the impact of risk screening," Cahiers de recherche 1603, Chaire de recherche Industrielle Alliance sur les enjeux économiques des changements démographiques.
    10. Platanakis, Emmanouil & Sutcliffe, Charles, 2016. "Pension scheme redesign and wealth redistribution between the members and sponsor: The USS rule change in October 2011," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 14-28.
    11. Wang, Yong & Mao, Connie X., 2015. "Shareholder activism of public pension funds: The political facet," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 138-152.
    12. Shan Ge & Michael S. Weisbach, 2019. "The Role of Financial Conditions in Portfolio Choices: The Case of Insurers," NBER Working Papers 25677, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Boubaker, Sabri & Gounopoulos, Dimitrios & Nguyen, Duc Khuong & Paltalidis, Nikos, 2015. "Assessing the effects of unconventional monetary policy on pension funds risk incentives," MPRA Paper 73398, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Aug 2016.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public pension funds; Investment risk; State fiscal constraints; Risk transfer; Government accounting;

    JEL classification:

    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jbfina:v:40:y:2014:i:c:p:403-419. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Haili He). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jbf .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.