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Pensions and Retiree Health Benefits in Household Wealth: Changes from 1969 to 1992

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  • Alan L. Gustman
  • Thomas L. Steinmeier

Abstract

By 1992, pensions and retiree health insurance represented one quarter of the wealth of families on the verge of retirement. Between 1969 and 1992, abstracting from the effects of changes in wages and years of covered work on pension benefit amounts, changes in pension coverage and plan provisions raised total wealth by $67,000. This raised wealth from employer provided pension benefits per family by 150 percent in real terms. Changes in retiree health benefits, which have only about 7 percent of the value of pensions, experienced similar real growth, increasing in value by $3,700. Most of the increases in pension values and the value of retiree health insurance plans was due to improvements in real benefits for covered workers. All classes of wealth holders enjoyed increased wealth from employer-provided retirement plans, but those in the top half of the wealth distribution enjoyed increases that were much larger in absolute terms and larger in relation to the holders' total wealth.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 2000. "Pensions and Retiree Health Benefits in Household Wealth: Changes from 1969 to 1992," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(1), pages 30-50.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:35:y:2000:i:1:p:30-50
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ann McDermed & Robert L. Clark & Steven G. Allen, 1989. "Pension Wealth, Age-Wealth Profiles, and the Distribution of Net Worth," NBER Chapters,in: The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth, pages 689-736 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
    3. Olivia S. Mitchell & Jan Olson & Thomas Steinmeier, "undated". "Construction of the Earnings and Benefits File (EBF) for Use with the Health and Retirement Survey," Pension Research Council Working Papers 98-19, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
    4. John Rust & Christopher Phelan, 1997. "How Social Security and Medicare Affect Retirement Behavior in a World of Incomplete Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 781-832, July.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

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