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The Corporate Governance of Defined-Benefit Pension Plans: Evidence from the United Kingdom


  • Cocco, Joâo Francisco P.D.
  • Volpin, Paolo


This paper studies the governance of defined-benefit pension plans in the United Kingdom. We construct a governance measure, equal to the proportion of trustees of the pension plan who are also executive directors of the sponsoring company. Our findings indicate that pension plans of indebted companies with a higher proportion of insider-trustees: (i) invest a higher proportion of the pension plan assets into equities, (ii) contribute less into the pension plan, and (iii) have a larger dividend payout ratio. This evidence supports an agency view, whereby insider-trustees act in the interest of shareholders of the sponsoring company, and not necessarily pension plan members.

Suggested Citation

  • Cocco, Joâo Francisco P.D. & Volpin, Paolo, 2005. "The Corporate Governance of Defined-Benefit Pension Plans: Evidence from the United Kingdom," CEPR Discussion Papers 4932, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4932

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Stewart C. Myers & Nicholas S. Majluf, 1984. "Corporate Financing and Investment Decisions When Firms Have InformationThat Investors Do Not Have," NBER Working Papers 1396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    4. Besley, Timothy & Prat, Andrea, 2003. "Pension fund governance and the choice between defined benefit and defined contribution plans," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 24853, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Treynor, Jack L, 1977. "The Principles of Corporate Pension Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 627-638, May.
    6. Jeffrey Pontiff & Andrei Shleifer & Michael S. Weisbach, 1990. "Reversions of Excess Pension Assets after Takeovers," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(4), pages 600-613, Winter.
    7. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1987. "Issues in Pension Economics," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi87-1, January.
    8. Zvi Bodie & Jay O. Light & Randall Morck, 1987. "Funding and Asset Allocation in Corporate Pension Plans: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Chapters,in: Issues in Pension Economics, pages 15-48 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-329, May.
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    12. Daniel Bergstresser & Mihir Desai & Joshua Rauh, 2006. "Earnings Manipulation, Pension Assumptions, and Managerial Investment Decisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 157-195.
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    14. Mary Margaret Frank, 2002. "The Impact of Taxes on Corporate Defined Benefit Plan Asset Allocation," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(4), pages 1163-1190, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Philip Bunn & Kamakshya Trivedi, 2005. "Corporate expenditures and pension contributions: evidence from UK company accounts," Bank of England working papers 276, Bank of England.
    2. Kamakshya Trivedi & Garry Young, 2006. "Defined benefit company pensions and corporate valuations: simulation and empirical evidence from the United Kingdom," Bank of England working papers 289, Bank of England.

    More about this item


    corporate governance; defined benefits; insiders; pension plans; pension trustees;

    JEL classification:

    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance

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