IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Public pension shortfalls and state economic growth: a preliminary examination


  • Charles Steindel

    () (Ramapo College of New Jersey)


Public pension funding problems may contribute to a state's poor economic performance. This paper examines that proposition, using state-level data on public pensions developed by the Pew Trust, and jointly by the Federal Reserve Board and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. There is little evidence that measures of the level of unfunded pension plan liabilities lead directly to a state's soft economic performance, though growth in unfunded liabilities appear to be associated with lower growth. While these results suggest that reductions in the growth of a state's pension debt may be beneficial, they arguably do not imply that dramatic action to reduce liabilities is necessarily called for. In that regard, the implications are comparable to those of Lenney et al. (2019), that suggest that reasonable goals for some presumed highly troubled systems are stabilization of the ratio of their unfunded liabilities to their state's nominal GDP, rather than outright elimination of the debt.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Steindel, 2020. "Public pension shortfalls and state economic growth: a preliminary examination," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan;National Association for Business Economics, vol. 55(3), pages 138-149, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:buseco:v:55:y:2020:i:3:d:10.1057_s11369-020-00183-3
    DOI: 10.1057/s11369-020-00183-3

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

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

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    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:pal:buseco:v:55:y:2020:i:3:d:10.1057_s11369-020-00183-3. 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: (Sonal Shukla) or (Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing). General contact details of provider: .

    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.