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The effect of unfunded accumulated and projected pension obligations on governmental borrowing costs

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  • BARRY R. MARKS
  • K. K. RAMAN

Abstract

. Available evidence suggests that state and local government pension plans may be substantially underfunded. The capitalization of these unfunded obligations in borrowing costs is an important public policy issue, since noncapitalization may lead to the misallocation of credit and stimulate the provision of an inefficiently high level of current services. Prior research has relied largely on pension ratios as surrogates for unfunded liabilities and also appears to have made no attempt to distinguish between projected benefits and accumulated benefits. The Governmental Accounting Standards Board requires the disclosure of projected benefits and asserts that accumulated benefits severely understate the obligations of a governmental unit. The empirical evidence reported in this study suggests that, for state governments, unfunded projected liabilities provide no incremental information to the bond market over and above that already provided by unfunded accumulated liabilities. Résumé. Les données existantes laissent supposer que la capitalisation des régimes publics de pensions à l'échelle de l'État et à l'échelle locale pourrait être largement insuffisante. Le financement des obligations non capitalisées à même les coûts d'emprunt est une question de politique importante, puisque la non†capitalisation risque d'entraîner une mauvaise répartition des crédits et la fourniture d'un niveau de services actuel trop élevé. Dans les travaux de recherche précédents, l'on s'est appuyé en grande partie sur les ratios de retraite comme substituts dans le cas des dettes non capitalisées et l'on semble également n'avoir d'aucune façon tenté d'établir une distinction entre les prestations projetées et les prestations constituées. Le Governmental Accounting Standards Board exige la présentation des prestations prévues et affirme que le chiffre des prestations constituées sous†évalue de beaucoup les obligations gouvernementales. Les résultats concrets de la présente étude donnent à penser que pour les États, la communication des dettes prévues non capitalisées ne fournit au marché obligataire aucune information supplémentaire à la communication des dettes constituées non capitalisées.

Suggested Citation

  • Barry R. Marks & K. K. Raman, 1988. "The effect of unfunded accumulated and projected pension obligations on governmental borrowing costs," Contemporary Accounting Research, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 4(2), pages 595-608, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:coacre:v:4:y:1988:i:2:p:595-608
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1911-3846.1988.tb00688.x
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