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Changes in Firm Pension Policy: Trends Away from Traditional Defined Benefit Plans

  • Kandice Kapinos
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    In light of the recent concerns regarding the solvency of Social Security’s Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI), private pensions may play an increasingly important role in retirement welfare of US retirees. However, the private pension landscape has evolved in ways that may result in lower private pension wealth for retirees. One recent such phenomenon involves the conversion of traditional defined benefit pension plans to cash balance plans, which resulted in lower pension benefits for many workers. In this study, I investigate how characteristics of the firm’s workforce influenced whether the firm converted their traditional pension plan to a cash balance plan and how these characteristics related to the firm’s pension plan policy more generally. Using the Longitudinal Employer-Household Data and pension plan data from the Department of Labor/Internal Revenue Service and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, I found little evidence of workforce age distribution effects on the likelihood of DB plan conversion to a cash balance plan in the 1990s. More generally, I consistently find positive associations between firms with older and more female workforces and defined contribution plans during the same time.

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    Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 11-36.

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    Length: 22 pages
    Date of creation: Nov 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:11-36
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    1. Kandice Kapinos, 2009. "On the Determinants of Defined Benefit Pension Plan Conversions," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 149-167, June.
    2. Alicia H. Munnell & Kelly Haverstick & Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, 2006. "Job Tenure and Pension Coverage," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2006-18, Center for Retirement Research, revised Oct 2006.
    3. repec:oup:qjecon:v:107:y:1992:i:3:p:1033-56 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Leslie E. Papke, 1999. "Are 401(k) Plans Replacing Other Employer-Provided Pensions? Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(2), pages 346-368.
    5. repec:crr:issbrf:ib2006-44 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Kandice Kapinos, 2009. "On the Determinants of Defined Benefit Pension Plan Conversions," Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 149-167, June.
    7. Leora Friedberg & Michael T. Owyang, 2004. "Explaining the evolution of pension structure and job tenure," Working Papers 2002-022, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    8. Leslie E. Papke & Mitchell A. Petersen & James M. Poterba, 1996. "Do 401(k) Plans Replace Other Employer-Provided Pensions?," NBER Chapters, in: Advances in the Economics of Aging, pages 219-240 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Greg Niehaus & Tong Yu, 2005. "Cash-Balance Plan Conversions: Evidence on Excise Taxes and Implicit Contracts," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 72(2), pages 321-352.
    10. Robin L. Lumsdaine & James H. Stock & David A. Wise, 1996. "Retirement Incentives: The Interaction between Employer-Provided Pensions, Social Security, and Retiree Health Benefits," NBER Chapters, in: The Economic Effects of Aging in the United States and Japan, pages 261-293 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Teresa Ghilarducci & Michael Reich, 2001. "Complementarity of Pensions and Training under Multiemployer Plans," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 22(3), pages 615-634, July.
    12. Joshua D. Rauh, 2006. "Investment and Financing Constraints: Evidence from the Funding of Corporate Pension Plans," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(1), pages 33-71, 02.
    13. Richard B. Freeman, 1981. "The effect of unionism on fringe benefits," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 34(4), pages 489-509, July.
    14. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-84, December.
    15. Ippolito, Richard A, 1985. "The Labor Contract and True Economic Pension Liabilities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1031-43, December.
    16. Coronado, Julia Lynn & Copeland, Philip C., 2004. "Cash balance pension plan conversions and the new economy," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(03), pages 297-314, November.
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