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The Effects of Defined Benefit Pension Incentives and Working Conditions on Teacher Retirement Decisions


  • Joshua Furgeson

    () (Project Coordinator, Argosy Foundation, Milwaukee, WI)

  • Robert P. Strauss

    () (H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie-Mellon University)

  • William B. Vogt

    () (H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie-Mellon University)


The retirement behavior of Pennsylvania public school teachers in 1997–98 and 1998–99, a period when state early retirement incentives were temporarily increased, is modeled using a choice framework that emphasizes both pecuniary and nonpecuniary factors of the retirement decision under a defined benefit retirement plan. We find each to have large and statistically significant effects on the decision to retire. The present value of inflation-adjusted pension benefits of a public defined benefit plan is found to be an important and sizable determinant of retirement. A $1,000 (or .4 percent) increase in the real present value of pension benefits is estimated to increase the probability of retirement for female teachers by .02 to .08 percentage points; this implies an elasticity of retirement for female teachers with respect to the present value of real pensions of between 2.0 to 3.5. These estimated defined benefit pension elasticities for female teachers are higher than for male teachers, whose comparable retirement elasticity was 1.9 to 2.5. A $1,000 increase in current salary is found to reduce the mean probability of retirement by .1 percentage points, implying an elasticity of -1.4. Thus, substantial salary increases systematically reduce the probability of older teachers retiring. © 2006 American Education Finance Association

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua Furgeson & Robert P. Strauss & William B. Vogt, 2006. "The Effects of Defined Benefit Pension Incentives and Working Conditions on Teacher Retirement Decisions," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 1(3), pages 316-348, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:edfpol:v:1:y:2006:i:3:p:316-348

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    Cited by:

    1. Shawn Ni & Michael Podgursky, 2016. "How Teachers Respond to Pension System Incentives: New Estimates and Policy Applications," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(4), pages 1075-1104.
    2. Figlio, D. & Karbownik, K. & Salvanes, K.G., 2016. "Education Research and Administrative Data," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    3. Dongwoo Kim & Cory Koedel & Shawn Ni & Michael Podgursky & Weiwei Wu, 2016. "Pensions and Late-Career Teacher Retention," Working Papers 2016-08, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised Jul 2017.
    4. Ashok Thomas & Luca Spataro, 2013. "Pension funds and Market Efficiency: A review," Discussion Papers 2013/164, Dipartimento di Economia e Management (DEM), University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.
    5. Brown, Kristine M., 2013. "The link between pensions and retirement timing: Lessons from California teachers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 1-14.
    6. Martin F. Lueken & Michael Podgursky, 2016. "Determinants of Cashing Out: A Behavioral Analysis of Refund Claimants and Annuitants in the Illinois Teachers Retirement System," Working Papers 1605, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.

    More about this item


    teacher pensions; teacher retirement; teacher benefits;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid


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